Kolokoly was site-specific piece made for set of bells placed on Kamenné square in Bratislava, as part of Mélos-Ethos festival.
These bells normally play one song every hour. Most of the months in the year it is the same song. Every person living in the centre knows their sound very intimately. They are loud and well positioned, and can be heard for hundreds of meters.
I used the bells as my instrument and composed something new. For some reason, none of the songs in the original playlist was actually written for the bells! So I gave the bells what they deserved - their personal, site-specific composition.
From technological standpoint, biggest challenge of the project was connecting to the existing bell-driving system. It was controlled via proprietary PLC module (technology commonly used in industrial electronics), therefore I needed to “hack” the system with my own electronics and connect to the bells as directly as possible.
For this purpose I have used Arduino board with my custom shield, generating 24 V impulses for triggering of the bells. Arduino was ideal choice, since can be easily serving as intermediator between the world of electronics and computers.
When the electronics were finished and connected, I have started working on my composition. I used pre-recorded sounds of the bells as simulation of what might happen. I was particularly inspired by polymetric and polyrhythmic compositional methods and my involvement with various gamelan orchestras over last few years.
All work was done using Max/MSP, since I already had experience in working in particular connection of this software with Arduino hardware, using “Maxuino” patches - allowing easy serial communication with the device.
It ended up being short, but intense piece - performed two times, 9th a 13th of November 2013. It got wide attention by various slovak newspaper (SME, Pravda) and there was a small report of the event in the main state Slovak television channel STV.
You can hear the compositions over here:
Video from the first performance