Kirkos - For Private Use
an experimental anthology to help you hear, see and taste your environment in new ways, and redefine what you mean by the word performance.
Confused? Browse the pieces below, find the ones that interest you most: and figure out how to perform them!
We miss performing! We've been enjoying live streams and all the opportunities they bring to hear music from from friends and strangers across the globe, but being in a room together can't be replicated by transmissions into our kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, earphones. We thought about what exactly we were missing: the intimacy of warm bodies soaking up the same vibrations, breathing the same dust and smelling the same sweat; the journeys to a concert - all different, but loaded with the same expectation and excitement; the total focus of occupying a darkened room, feeling almost alone with the performers.
We wondered whether there were other ways to find these shared experiences without being in the same space. Last year, the producer and dj Robbie Kitt released No Handers, an hour-long mix designed to be played through a small speaker tied to your bike as you cycle through Dublin; around the same time, we started reading and discussing Kenneth Maue's Water in the Lake, a book of pieces designed to be performed alone or in a group with no audience. These ideas mingled in our heads as we entered lockdowns 2 and 3....
Together, they suggested a way forward: we can't be in the same room together, but we can find other ways to share a listening context and a special experience – and we can privilege the private act of performing a piece only for yourself. So, we have For Private Use, an anthology partly devised by Kirkos, and partly composed by a set of wonderful artists commissioned to make micro-pieces by Kirkos and New Music Dublin. It also includes a few existing works which helped inspire our ideas. .
The common theme is that no piece is complete: everything on this page needs something extra in order to become whole. This ingredient is your active participation (yes you!), as audience member and performer.
For us, reframing ‘performance’ as an act that is private and DIY is a radical change of perspective:
you don't need to be a professional to be a performer;
if you're a performer, you don't need an audience to perform.
Tips for performers:
The pieces below are not streamed live. You can come back and perform them any time, and of course you can make mistakes and you can break the rules: nobody is watching!
Some of them are audio or video, often with instructions attached or embedded into the files; others are simply texts. We’ve tried to make everything as clear as possible
You can perform many or all of the pieces, or you can just pick your favourite. You can use the page however you want but we like the idea of scrolling at random until something catches your eye (or ear!)
Everything here works as a solo performance you can do on your own, but you could also try them in groups or even in public (as long as you aren’t too shy). You don’t need specialist equipment to take part, and a curious outlook will be much more helpful than any kind of musical training!
We encourage you not to stop at reading: these pieces are all designed to be actively engaged with. Part of the experience of these works can be enjoyed purely by reading and thinking, but it really becomes something else when you put it into practice!
Some of the pieces are quite vague: you can use your imagination, and you might feel it’s impossible to take a piece literally - that’s OK.
On the flipside, for pieces which are specific and detailed, it's wise to do your best to follow the instructions carefully and as well as you can, because the composer probably used their words with a lot of intention.
And please remember: it’s OK to fail! No one is watching you, and even performances that don’t seem to work can lead to worthwhile experiences.
You can get in touch with us: if you can't figure out what to do, or you want to know more about a piece or a composer, or if we have absolutely ruined your Sunday morning, we would love to hear from you on Instagram (@kirkos_ensemble) or by email (email@example.com) - or you can leave a comment below. We’ve also included links to some of the work that has informed us at the very end of the page, in case we have piqued your interest.
Pieces with video:
Four Sonic Meditations: A Sound That Says Hello (John Godfrey*)
How to Build a VIOLIN in TWENTY MINUTES Tutorial (Sebastian Adams)
How to with Tom: Hoovering Up the Negatives (Tom Roseingrave / Jane Hackett)
Hope (Robbie Blake*)
Pieces with Audio:
A Deep Listening Practice to Aid in Times Where We Find Ourselves Alone in the Same Room Far Too Often (Elis Czerniak*)
Espresso: microsonata (Sebastian Adams)
Sound Walk, Vienna (Jane Hackett)
Four Sonic Meditations: Distance (John Godfrey*)
Four Sonic Meditations: Perfume (John Godfrey*)
for animating ashes (after Connie Smith) (Eimear Walshe*)
Piece of Grapefruit (Yseult Cooper Stockdale)
Text or instruction pieces:
Blink Piece (Jane Hackett)
Brushing the Canon (Yseult Cooper Stockdale, Tom Roseingrave)
Earth Hour (Robert Coleman)
Four Sonic Meditations: A little light music (John Godfrey*)
Extractor Fan Duet (Edward Henderson)†
How to Get Better (Timothy Cape)†
Humming into being (Tom Roseingrave)
Light a Candle (Susan Geaney*)
Multimedia Piece by Johnny Ronan, or, On the submission of the SHD Application Form to An Bord Pleanála for the Construction of a 44-storey Tower and a 45-storey Tower also (Tom Roseingrave)
Piece for Curtain Twitchers (Tom Roseingrave)
Pocket Pieces (Yseult Cooper Stockdale)
Poem for the Builders (Tom Roseingrave)
Song to take away (Tom Roseingrave)
Soundmapping (Robert Coleman)
Sounds for Safekeeping (Robert Coleman)
Seven Text Pieces for Private Use (Susan Geaney*)
1. Morning Floorboard (Hannah Miller)
Pick out your Outfit of the Day. Choose the creakiest floorboard in your room.
Get dressed while standing or sitting on this floorboard.
Listen carefully to the creaking as you dress - notice which item of clothing is the loudest and which is the quietest.
Come back to this spot to get undressed in the evening.
Is the loudest piece of clothing still the loudest?
Is the quietest piece still the quietest?
Or did their sounds change throughout the day?
2. Floorboard Meditation (an audio piece by Hannah Miller)
This piece can be performed anywhere with exposed floorboards.
No preparation is necessary: the piece is best played through earphones.
3. Duo for creaky floorboards (Robert Coleman)
With a duo partner explore your house and each find a suitable creaky floorboard. You do not have to be in the same room, although you should be able to hear each other creak on their floorboard. Improvise a short duet together using the floorboards. Listen to what your partner is doing and try to match them in either mood, loudness or rhythm.
Pocket Pieces (Yseult Cooper Stockdale)
i) On a day where you need to go out, find a place in your home where you feel most at ease. Sit and listen to your breath and heartbeat for several minutes. Begin to gently tap or dance along with your fingers until a pattern starts to form. Memorise a short sequence. Go out into your day, wearing something with deep comfortable pockets. Return to your hand’s dance in the secrecy of your pockets whenever you want a moment of comfort, privacy or guidance.
ii) Choose a very small object from your bedroom as soon you wake up. Set it aside until you are about to leave the house, then place it in the pocket of your jacket. Pay attention and care to it all day whenever you have the time. Hold and explore it with your hands and picture its shape in the darkness of your pocket in as much detail as possible. Note its temperature, its textures, its vulnerability or imperviousness, in your fingers. Think about its purpose, its aspirations, its regrets, its past, its future, its relationships. Listen to it with your hand. Do not remove it from your pocket until the end of the day, when you thank it, say goodbye, and put it back where you found it.
Brushing the Canon
(Yseult Cooper Stockdale & Tom Roseingrave)
The website of Dental Care Ireland, a network of established dental practices, encourages patients to brush teeth for at least two minutes ‘for best results.’ This aligns with advice from most international dental associations. In this piece, we invite participants to select one of the canonical Irish texts below and place it gently in your mouth. Begin brushing your teeth as normal (Dental Care Ireland recommends a medium-bristle brush), reading your chosen text aloud as you brush.
Motormouths aside, the performance will last longer than two minutes. In most cases we guarantee improved (or at least sustained) dental hygiene AND a fresh acquaintance with the canon.
Perform another text (or all three) for a full canonical clean.
Blink Piece (Jane Hackett)
Find a mirror and stand in front of it.
Look at yourself. Have a staring competition with yourself. Whoever blinks first must create a rhythmic pattern with their eye blinks. Don’t pre-empt the rhythm. Listen to your surroundings for inspiration. Play with the contrast of blinks. When the time is right, rest your eyes and notice what you see in the darkness.