bee-sharp honeybee

Bee-sharp Honeybee is a brand new music work currently in development, hailing from Minneapolis, USA. It’s an independent art-science creation project, inspired by, and directly derived from the research of bees (with a focus on bee buzz frequencies/wing-beat speed).

In short, I’m creating some quirky chamber music, to perform live, accompany silent claymation films, and help spread the word about bee culture: it’s my contribution in helping to promote bee research and educate the public about the importance of bees to human survival. Better bee-lieve it!

Working with the University of Minnesota (UMN) Bee Research Lab (USA), and surrounding communities of beekeepers, scientists and researchers, musicians and producers, I’ve designed my own R&D residency in Minnesota. I am immersed in conducting field recordings; interviewing beekeepers; collating technical data; and analysing technical & musical (frequency) details of the bee buzz.

From here I am creating a series of chamber music ‘Miniatures’ (all between 15 sec – 2 mins in length), part-composed using both traditional and graphic scores, part-improvised (with Minneapolis musicians the Laurels String Quartet), guided by frequency information in audio & visual form, utilising structures of tone, pitch and wing-beat speed.

The nerdy part: It has been noted before, that the bee buzz tone (wing beat), usually sustains approximately 250 beats per second (250Hz~ fairly close to middle C, or B#, hence the title). This frequency / wing beat intensity, changes with behavioural patterns (maximising pollen release, threatening situations etc), environmental/weather conditions and body/wing size- I’ve set out to use these buzz variations as musical starting points (in bee-tween bee stings that is).

The Miniatures will be workshopped closely with Laurels String Quartet, recorded, and performed as a compact-concert at The Pollinator Party (see details below), followed by a house-concert in Minneapolis the following evening. Alongside, we are developing a series of 2D & 3D stop-motion claymation shorts to accompany the Miniatures. Stay tuned for the release of these soon!!

Then… Over the succeeding months and into 2018, I will be developing Bee-Sharp Honeybee into a large scale work, which will eventually culminate in a 40 minute chamber orchestral work with electronics~ the electronic component consisting of a pre-recorded element of bees (from the field recordings/interviews with beekeepers and scientists), and contemporary and abstract beats & samples derived and manipulated from these recordings. Phew! I’m tired already!

Huge thanks goes to the Finzi Trust for awarding me with a scholarship to get the ball rolling on this project. Thanks also goes to the UMN Bee Research Lab & Bee Squad, Jared Miller, Fiona Toth-Gillies, Deacon Warner, Jenny Warner, Kurt Weimer, Celia and Ron Wirth, Independent Filmmaker Project MN, Emily Downes, Sam B, Marcie LaCerte, MN Hobby Beekeepers Association, and many more yet to come..

You can see the initial string quartet miniatures live in performance at The Pollinator Party, Thursday July 27, 2017 5-8pm. Lyndell Park Gardens (1300 W 42nd St).

Additionally, there’ll be house-concert performance in Minneapolis on Friday July 28, 2017. Stay tuned for details very shortly.