Brendon Bussy

Silent Noise via Dum Ka Pa

Posted in Events, Music, Research, Sound, Theatre, Workshops by Brendon Bussy on October 27, 2013

Over the past year and a half I’ve been working full time as a music and art teacher to mostly primary school students and students with special needs . One of the techniques that I’ve developed is a simple hand sign and body percussion system which has come to be known as  Dum Ka Pa (DKP). A system loosely based on the systems used for teaching middle eastern percussion.

The initial intention of the system was to teach rhythm however this system has developed into a broad exploration of the nature of sound, not just auditory (as we hear with our ears), but also tactile (vibration) and kinetic* (the way we move in response to sound).

Over the past year I’ve been doing a great deal of research around sensory perception, especially how we construct our conception of the world via our senses. This process is not entirely objective or straightforward and leads to many interesting questions which end up being very useful grist for my creative mill.

A serious exploration. However my intention has always been to keep it fun for myself and the people I work with. So my method is slowly evolving into a springboard for physical theater with madcap tendencies such as Normal Noise , a performance I work-shopped earlier this year with young deaf performaners, and even experiments with Sign Rap using South African Sign Language (which I am currently learning).

Recently I’ve started using my techniques to create participative experiences with adult audiences – an exploration of sensory perception by turning the body into a kinetic music machine, an energetic and enjoyably absurd activity. Can you hear sound without noise?

During November I had the opportunity of performing as part of the Paarden Eiland Concert series where I performed Silent Noise and the following images give a rough idea of the manner in which the performance unfolds.

*I’ve started experimenting with the term ‘kinetic melody’ – a term borrowed from Oliver Sacks who used it to describe the manner in which people with Tourette syndrome are able to calm tics through engaging with rhythmic activities.

Silent Noise intro: A backdrop of pink noise is played over the sound system to induce a sense of auditory deafness. I 'draw' the texture of the sound by tracing a large circle with a jittery finger in the air.

Silent Noise intro: A backdrop of pink noise is played over the sound system to induce a sense of auditory deafness. I ‘draw’ the texture of the sound by tracing a large circle with a jittery finger in the air. (pic: Kim Gurney)

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Ear Shells at Sounding Out

Posted in Art, Design, Events, Invention, Materials, Research, Sound, Workshops by Brendon Bussy on June 30, 2012

This coming week I’m going up to Johannesburg to take part in an exhibition at the Bag Factory. It opens on Wednesday night(4th July). And I’ll also be running a workshop on the 7th July (details here).

Sounding Out deals with contemporary music and visual art. A rarity on the South African experimental scene, I’m looking forward to this gathering of sound artists and sound thinking people.

When the show’s curator Kim Gurney approached me in March of this year, I considered a number of ideas which I’ve been experimenting with, but each seemed too noisy. An odd thing for a sound artist to say you might wonder? Well my thinking was that any idea worth pursuing would need to take into consideration the possibility of there being a number of  noisy artists in one room.

So I decided to take a silent approach and create something which could be used to listen with – to the works on the show as well as other sounds in the building.

Eventually I came up with a modified hearing instrument, in some ways similar to my Kone Phones, but durable and much more useful.  I’m very happy with the resulting Ear Shells.

Ear Shells

Here’s me sporting the first model I made.

Me with Ear Shells

The listening experience is something like covering your ears with shells, (more…)

If Walls Could Talk Would They Sing?

Posted in Art, Mandolin, Music, Research, Soundtracks by Brendon Bussy on September 30, 2011

In June this year I was approached by Renée Holleman to collaborate on a soundtrack for her upcoming show ‘A Novel in Parts’ at WhatIfTheWorld’s new premises in Woodstock, Cape Town.

The brief she gave me proved to be a great opportunity to explore Woodstock, the neighbourhood Masha and I had just moved into, as well as a useful challenge for my compositional techniques.

This is the final soundtrack:

Woodstock  is today primarily a Moslem community with a growing immigrant population from other parts of Africa, but up until the 1940’s it was a Jewish neighbourhood of Lithuanian decent. Renee explained that the show would touch on specific and tangential references to this context, especially as the exhibition was to take place in the old Woodstock Salt River Synagogue complex – the Hebrew Community Hall having been converted into the new gallery premises.

A detail from a work on the show ‘A Novel In Parts’

[See more images from the show here.]

She also explained that the soundtrack would need to have a clear link to the current context but also in some way evoke the past – and use sound to achieve this.  The starting point would be the location of the exhibition – the Synagogue complex, which had been de-consecrated in the late 1950’s, and had seen a number of other occupants, including a bicycle repair shop and a furniture manufacturer. (more…)

Workshop: Making Useful Instruments

Posted in Design, Invention, Materials, Music, New Old Old New, Research, Workshops by Brendon Bussy on June 25, 2011

I’m going to be running a workshop focusing on building and playing stringed instruments made from found objects.

Based on traditional (and not so traditional) African instruments such as harps, fiddles, lutes – made from tins, cardboard tubes, boxes, and any suitable odd but useful object.

seriously playing a cardboard kora in district 6

In the first session we’ll explore (more…)

Jacques van Zyl and the Wynberg String Accelerator

Posted in Electronics, Invention, Research, Sound by Brendon Bussy on March 9, 2011

My collaborations with Jacques go back to our first meeting at the Unyazi Electronic music festival (Joburg 05).
I’d created a work for the festival called CMYK, based on an analysis of a visual work by Paul Edmunds – a rather long winded live Audiomulch and Mandolin performance , which met with an unexpectedly enthusiastic audience response (my immediate thought “I’ve sold out!”).

The next day I ran a workshop and afterwards had a long chat with this very polite man who confessed to have recorded my performance and professed that he was a ‘flight attendant’ quickly following that with (in case there was any confusion) ‘you know – like an air hostess’, but also that he built speakers and amplifiers and wasn’t planning to stay in his present high flying occupation for long.

He didn’t and instead went on to resign and put all of his energies into developing Phi Audio, his bespoke speaker company.  And we continued to correspond and, where possible, when Jacques was in town, to dabble in a range of audio experiments including (more…)