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Instrumentation: Piano & electronics/augmented organ

I was at the Sampo Academy in Auch, France in July and August 2023.


The sampo was invented to flatten the steep learning curve that makes performing with live electronics a challenge for instrumentalists (I don't use Ableton and would quickly give up if I had to start thinking about which mic(s) I'm going to use and whether I should have pads and what pedals I need and what of the infinite combinations of effects I might use, for example). It's about the size of a briefcase and comes with eight (or nine, I can't remember) pedals that also fit into a little suitcase, so literally all the setup work you need to do is plugging a mic in.

I pretty much got to spend a week in France in the summer making music all day. I tried to keep in mind how precious an opportunity that is so pushed myself and tried to have some music I could be proud of at the end of it.

I'm still waiting on the footage and recordings of the two performances I gave during the week, which I'm really really hoping will arrive soon as 1) I haven't seen or heard it myself yet and 2) I'm excited to share it.


First performance was at Eglise Saint-Orens church in Auch on 29th July 2023. The sampo team have built an 'augmented' organ in the church, so you have this humungous church organ with live electronics built in that allow you to make it sound even more otherworldly. We were given a little demonstration, told that we had a performance in the church on day three or four of the academy, and told that we could perform if we liked. Would anybody like to perform on the organ? I'd never even touched an organ before but you know when you can feel a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity tapping you on the shoulder.

Again I wasn't quite able to believe my luck but they gave me the key to the church and I had the place to myself for an afternoon to practice and try to come up with something.


Necessity is the mother invention and I did indeed manage to put something together. Structurally I borrowed from Arena #2, a piano piece I'd started work on for which I'll have a page soon. Essentially I discovered how cool it is simply to invert a chord over and over again so that it keeps rising. Fairly simple but you can improvise around it which means it can be as simple or complicated as you like. The really interesting stuff came from the stops and effects I was using. These two scraps of paper were my score.

Organ sheet 2.jpg
Organ sheet 1.jpg

Here are recordings I made of my practice sessions.

And here is my mix and edit ahead of the hopefully-imminent publication of the final version with the correct title on the Sampo Academy website and YouTube channel.

Sampo Suite

We had a filmed performance on the final day of the academy, so my week was otherwise spent in my room at Auch music school (many, many hours) learning to use the sampo and writing a big final piece. I haven't heard anything from it yet so for now all that exists is this photo taken by the wonderful and wonderfully talented Lieve de Sadeleer of Delle Donne Consort.


Here are some more photos to fill the space until I have more content.

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