Simon Knighton

Simon’s work investigates the interplay of acoustic instrumentation and electronic music production.

Simon Knighton is a composer and sound artist.

Using acoustic and psychoacoustic phenomena to create methods of blurring the boundaries between different types of sound, his methods tend to push non-conventional aspects of music composition (such as spatialisation and the physicality of sound) to the fore, leading to work that sits on the boundary of concert, installation, ritual and theatre.

Sound Sculptures

Forming the core of Simon’s research is a series of Sound Sculptures – intended to be one for each instrument family and one for orchestra when completed. The term ‘sound sculpture’ refers not only to the aesthetics of the pieces, but also to the methods behind the compositions.

Simon begins these sculptures by collecting samples of performer improvisations, which are guided by graphic scores and text/verbal instruction. He then heavily edits these recordings: layering, time stretching, pitch shifting, and generally ‘sculpting’ these raw materials into their final form.

For example, he collaborated with the New York-based experimental trombonist Weston Olencki in 2019. The collaboration has led to the construction of Sound Sculpture 3 (2020), featuring Weston’s improvisations derived from Simon’s graphic scores.

Associations with PRiSM

Simon is particularly interested in combining scientific ideas and music. His first PRiSM project was a collaboration with Professor Lasse Rempe-Gillen (University of Liverpool), based around the musical representation of dynamical systems. The collaboration was part of PRiSM 8-cubed 2020 project, resulting in a piece entitled Dynamical Systems: Pendula (2020) that embodies dynamical systems on various musical levels by striking a balance between poetic representation in the instrumental parts, and algorithmically created chaos in the electronic parts.

He has also recently collaborated with scientist Dr Freya Mitchison (Cardiff University) and film-maker Fiona Brehony. The collaboration was part of PRiSM’s Changing Music in a Changing Environment project, resulting in the piece THREE PERSPECTIVES (2020) inspired by three perspectives of sea ice: microscopic, human and satellite.

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