Peter Batchelor: composer, sound designer


a proposed 400 channel work • 2020






Contraption: First presentation at Curve Theatre, Leicester


First outing for Contraption at the Curve Theatre, Leicester.

Contraption: Working on the sound materials


Attempting different looping sound materials on the columns, exploring spatialisaiton options and overall how it sounds.

Contraption: Populating columns with speakers


Electronics fitted and 64 channels connected per column. Battery powered for now. Keeping things neat is a challenge, facilitated largely with the aid of multiple elastic bands.


Contraption: Populating columns with speakers


I enlisted the help of the kind technical instructors at the university to help install the speakers. A two-and-a-half hour job which, had I done it alone, would have comfortably taken me a day and a half. Enormous thanks to Petros, Tim, Tom and Tony.


Contraption: Painting the columns


Having collected the columns, Ian joined me to complete the painting. We've chosen silver metallic paint which seems to work quite well. The Dr Who aesthetic, as identified by several people, wasn't entirely intentional but we're very pleased with it. It'll be muted by the anticipated mesh covering, which Ian is working on.


Contraption: Column completion and collection


Robin has made good headway on the columns in the last week. They’re taking up a good chunk of the workshop so he won’t be sorry to be shot of them. The tops and bottoms are now complete and they're ready to be painted.



Contraption: Amp/speaker testing


Back in the studios, testing begins on the amps and speakers, laid out on the studio floor. There's ground hum from the amps which will need troubleshooting; but otherwise most of them work.


Contraption: Building 'multichannel amps' in Devon


A week’s-worth of annual leave spent in Devon amid a chaos of components and I’m slightly further ahead with the electronics for the installation: 60-or-so new stereo amps to supplement the 40 I already have, and connecting the 192 speakers to butchered minijack-to-minijack cables.

Contraption: Autodesk templates for wood cutting


Converting the final designs to dxf files (autodesk) has proved non-trivial, and involved some spurious size-changes imposed by the software which could have presented a significant problem. But these are finally ready and have been sent to Robin for construction.


Contraption: Sketchup designs


After considering cost and practicality, and discussing with Robin Buttery in the woodwork lab at DMU, we have decided to stick with a solid construction but dispense with the individual food container speaker enclosures. The body of the columns themselves should serve as resonating chambers, so should replace the enclosures. Several day’s-worth of work on Sketchup yields the following design, which would involve three columns rather than the originally-planned five, in order to make the project more affordable.


Contraption structure model


Ian has worked on a possible structure for the columns—possibly to be constructed with aluminium such that they should be less weighty than the plywood prototypes completed thus far.


Contraption column prototype


Work progresses on a prototype structure: there will eventually 64 speakers (eight 'modules' of eight speakers stacked vertically) on each column. For this prototype we've made an eight-sided structure and attached the speakers (repurposed, for now at least, from the Beyond installation). I've run out of speaker enclosures, so this column will be completed when we make some more...;

...which leaves a mere 256 further speaker enclosures to make in order to construct the remaining four columns (assuming we are that ambitious).


Contraption 'module' prototype


Early experiments towards this project have involved the development of a 'module' prototype: eight speakers distributed, facing outwards, around a small washing up bowl. This is approximately the intended diameter of the anticipated cylinders. Each module will be powered by an eight-channel amp and soundcard (similar technical solution to that of Cascade). The video shows a few rotary 'mechanical sounds' that might work with this setup. The milage for these kinds of periodic sounds seems to be quite large.