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 (admin@kirkosensemble.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. 

Works List

Floorboard Piece

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.

1. Molly Bloom | 2. Leo Varadkar | 3. Boyzone

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.

Humming into being (Tom Roseingrave)

 

  1. Fall softly into the wall - backwards, forwards, or to the side. 

  2. Whichever part of your body that touches the wall first will be the body part used for this piece: hands, forehead, shoulder, heel, bum, head. Anywhere.

  3. This is the part you will be communicating with.

  4. Remain at the wall, touching it with this part of your body. 

  5. Begin humming. 

  6. Once you’ve got a hum going, send the hum to the part of your body touching the wall. 

  7. Now, we’ll use the hum to locate the sensation of touching: send the hum to the tiny place where your body and the wall meet.

  8. Once you’ve found that place, hum some more. Get really into it if you can.

  9. Over the coming days, notice if the sensation returns to you. If it does, enjoy it.


 

Try to do something that you think is probably not possible, though not definitely impossible.

(Kenneth Maue, from Remedies for Minor Nonspecific Ailments of the Soul)

 

 

Espresso: microsonata (Sebastian Adams)

The first modern espresso machine was built in Italy in 1901. To make espresso, very hot water is forced through finely ground coffee at a pressure equivalent to diving 100m below sea level. The resulting drink is a symphonic combination of complex tastes and smells, not to mention heat and texture.

 

The audio part for this piece is best played through earphones and it may be best to ready the track before you make or order your coffee.

Read the piece carefully before you start and try not to look at it while you're performing: it will be too distracting.

 

 

To perform this piece, first order or make an espresso. If the coffee being used comes with flavour notes, consider reading those.

 

As the drink is prepared, pay attention to the eruptions of steam and to the sounds and movements of the barista (or yourself).

 

When your espresso is ready, sit by a table with the mug of espresso dead centre in front of you. Press play on the audio file and then place your hands flat on the table, transferring part of your weight into the surface.

 

When you hear the first sound (a metallic introductory sound), lift your hands and take your first sip. After a few seconds, a microscopic piece of music will play, followed by another silence. This process will repeat four times. 

 

Take a sip of coffee in each silence; let it coat your tongue, savour the heat, tingle and aroma and become conscious of the surprising weight of the liquid.

 

Each of the four pieces you hear is a micro-movement in a tiny sonata or symphony, designed to direct your attention towards different chemical combinations in the coffee.

 

If you have not finished your espresso by the time the audio track ends, continue drinking in the same way: each sip followed by a 10 second pause to listen and taste a new constellation of sensations. You may imagine new music if you wish, but you might not feel the need.

A Piece of Grapefruit (Yseult Cooper Stockdale)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rise early and sit alone with a grapefruit and a bowl. Listen to this audio and peel and eat your grapefruit deliberately and mindfully. If you are finished eating before the audio ends, sit still with your empty bowl while it does. If you’re not finished eating before the audio ends, finish your grapefruit in silence. 

 

This piece was inspired by two texts - 

First, the poem Meditation on a Grapefruit by Craig Arnold, which is recited in the recording. Secondly, this passage from Manchán Magan’s Thirty-Two Words for Field: 


‘Iarmhaireacht, the loneliness you feel at cockcrow, when you are the only person awake and experience that existential pang of disconnection, of not belonging. / I had never quite noticed that tinge of sadness I felt as a child when awake before anyone else- a mix of elation at the tranquil beauty of the scene and regret at having no one to share it with.’

 

 

 

 

Piece for curtain twitchers (Tom Roseingrave)


(i) Listen out for noises made by people, or noises for which people are the source, coming from outside your home. (Examples: the neighbours’ telly going next door, or children playing on the street.) (ii) If you live in a remote place, listen for the sounds of living things. (iii) Using an instrument, your voice, or your body, duet with the person or noise. I only ask that the sound source must not know you are doing this. Sorry to be so prescriptive. (iv) The duet ends when there is a silence or pause from the other noise (it could be that you sing or play loudly enough that you don’t perceive their noise, however momentarily). (v) Finish. Take a bow and gesture silently to your duo’s other member.

Four Sonic Meditations: A Sound That Says Hello

(John Godfrey, new commission)

 

 

This is a Call and Response video: performance instructions are displayed while Kirkos react to them, and you are invited to improvise a response. The full text is available here

from Four sonic meditations in memoriam Pauline, who knew how valuable the shared sonic
experience really is.

Four Sonic Meditations: Perfume

(John Godfrey, new commission)

for audio and fridge contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Set up a means either to receive the performers’ broadcast or to play back their recording.

 



Select an item from your fridge. If it’s a jar, bottle or other container, open it. When you hear a sonority from the ensemble, smell the item you’ve selected carefully. Explore its notes, its sharp edges and subtle aromas. Note how its smell interacts with the sonority the ensemble is playing; try to find ways to describe for yourself what the combination feels like. When the sonority ends, put the item away and select another. This exercise might work best if you shut your eyes.

 

Next time you eat something, you may find yourself eating a symphony.

make a list of every vegetable you can think of. Tear the paper into tiny shreds. Put the shreds in a pan of water and boil for ten minutes.

(Kenneth Maue, from Remedies for Minor Nonspecific Ailments of the Soul)

 

Play Along Washing Up Piece

(Rachel Ní Chuinn, new commission)

for audio and dirty dishes [track lasts 2 minutes]

 

 

With cafés and restaurants closed and us all spending so much more time at home,there has been an increase in the amount of washing up generated every day.
Instead of throwing our hands in the air in despair, let us find a moment to play in the warm suds – an opportunity for sounds and sensations. The purr of water in a moving metal pot, the tiny crackle of froth changing form, the loud clang of a lid or the reverberant swell of a bowl hit with a wooden spoon.

Find a performance in the mundane.

Instructions

1 Clear the draining board

2 Fill the basin or sink with warm sudsy water

3 Assemble the dishes and pots to be washed

4 Play the attached recording on headphones or speakers, phone speakers will do

5 Begin

6 Carry on after the recording is finished if desired

7 Let the water evaporate

Music to Wash Hands By

(A collectively-composed hygiene suite by Kirkos)

suite of audio tracks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

‘Rub all parts of the hands and wrists with soap and water for at least 15 seconds (or as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday to you” song two times!)’

From HSE document: ‘Handwashing technique poster HSE Strategy for Antimicrobial Resistance in Ireland’

 

Wash your hands as per government guidelines.

Each time you wash your hands, play one track from this playlist (a track will be chosen at random)
Best played through earphones.
Each track is preceded by a beep and a 3-second wait to help you keep your phone dry.

Wash your hands, then dry them. Wash them again and dry them again. Now rub your hands together as if you were beginning to cast a magic spell.

(Kenneth Maue, from Remedies for Minor Nonspecific Ailments of the Soul)

Meditation on a Spin Cycle (Judith Ring*)

If you have any questions or comments about this piece,

you can contact Judith at judering@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoover Suite (a suite collectively composed by Kirkos)

1. Hoover your house from East to West (Hannah Miller)

2. Self Clean by Robert Coleman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. How-To with Tom: Hoovering up the Negatives (Tom Roseingrave/Jane Hackett)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sound walk, Vienna (Jane Hackett)

Binaural audio with text instructions

 

 

Wednesday, 14th April- 2.50 pm. 

I journeyed through Vienna, beginning from my apartment in the 14th district and making my way to the Schönbrunn Palace in Hietzing. This was approximately a 35 minute journey. 

 

take a walk at the same time as my sound walk (2.50pm) for approx 35 minutes whilst listening to this audio. Notice what you experience as the sounds create images of visuals you cannot see in front of you. Try and visualize my walk in Vienna as you also experience yours. When the piece ends, remove your earphones and enjoy the vivid sounds of wherever you have ended up.

 

If you can't leave your house, imagine you are nestled in my pocket as you listen: the sounds you hear are from the bustling streets of Vienn

 

 

 

 

Tie together two parked cars with some thread.

(Kenneth Maue, from Remedies for Minor Nonspecific Ailments of the Soul)

 

 

Speech for derelict spaces (Robert Coleman)

audio for performance in a derelict space; portable recorder also necessary (a spare phone will do!)

 


 

 

Soundmapping (Robert Coleman)

On a map, plan out a route for a walk. Imagine the sounds you might hear while on the walk and note down on the map where you think these sounds will be. Walk the route and bring your map. Compare the sounds you hear with the sounds you imagined you would hear.

 

Earth Hour (Robert Coleman)

One by one place your ear to and listen to every currently unneeded appliance which uses energy in your home. Familiarise yourself with the sounds of each of them and one by one turn them off. Notice if any new sounds have become evident now.

for animating ashes (After Connie Smith)
(Eimear Walshe*)

 

 

 

Put a book in your freezer and leave it there.

(Kenneth Maue, from Remedies for Minor Nonspecific Ailments of the Soul)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Sonic Meditations: Distance (John Godfrey*)

Kirkos have recorded a set of very sparse improvisations. They rehearsed these improvisations together via Zoom and afterwards all recorded their parts at a pre-decided time but without any kind of contact. The files above are the results: each file is one member of Kirkos playing and communicating telepathically with their personal memory and idea of their colleagues’ playing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Download all the recordings, or as many as you will be able to play back. Put each recording onto a separate playback device: for instance, you might put one or two on smart phones, one on a laptop, one on a CD and so on. Put each playback device in a different room of your house

and start them all playing - try to start them at more or less the same time. 

Once they are all playing, you can move through your house listening carefully, or you can go about your usual business.

 

If you don’t have six rooms or six recording devices, you can either choose to use just a few of the recordings when you play this piece, or you can double up with two files playing on one device or two devices in one room. ‘Distance’ is intended to create an ambience in your living space: it’s not a piece to listen to as if it’s in a concert, so it needs to be quite sparse. To achieve this, it’s probably best not to play more than two audio files in a single room.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

How to Build a VIOLIN in TWENTY MINUTES Tutorial (Sebastian Adams)

an instrument building tutorial in real-time: instructions embedded in video; no specialist supplies necessary

 

 

 

 

an optional thought piece can be performed to prepare for this piece, found here: https://bit.ly/32Y4Rtg

 

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)

 

Instructions:

 

Look out your window towards the sky, or, if it is possible, the Dublin skyline. 

Play this music from a digital device: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TboWOSW7qCI 

Return to the sky, or the skyline, and proclaim all of this aloud:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven Text Pieces for Private Use (Susan Geaney*)

 

Designed with lockdown in mind, I wanted to create pieces where anyone could take part and explore everyday objects and ideas within the home. These pieces can be experienced privately or performed in any context and location. You can document your response via sound/video clips or photographs to be shared online as part of a collective response


You can find the pieces here: Seven Text Pieces for Private Use

 

As a starting point for your imagination, here is a video of Susan Geaney performing Music for Kitchen Table 1

 

 

 

 

And here is a realisation of Shadow Play:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Get Better (Timothy Cape†, December 2016)

 

Numbered list is part of the score, please maintain

  1. Wrap up warm.

  2. Cook yourself a big dinner and eat, eat, eat.

  3. Relax with good people.

  4. Run naked along the tip of a stormy Atlantic peninsula shouting “WE ARE THE REASON! WE ARE THE REASON! WE ARE THE REASON!”

  5. Eat plenty of custard creams and take enormous naps.

  6. Scratch all the good bits over and over, bend over and slap your fleshy parts.

  7. Wash over and over with lovely soap.

  8. Talk to strangers, especially delinquents and those mentally frail.

  9. Make your body as big as the room.

  10. Make your eyes go out to your arms.

  11. Situate your head down by your knees for a while.

  12. Masturbate frequently, always aware of the shaft of light shining upwards from your chest to divinity.

  13. The silence of that big house on that mountainside, at dawn in winter, is nestled gently inside your skull.

  14. Go around your house searching for the best noises. If something makes a good noise, make sure to let it know.

  15. Make a big cake and give it to strangers.

  16. Get drunk in a pub, get up on the table and do the exact dance that will help figure it all out.

  17. Eat a big bowl of coco pops.

  18. Get so cosy you could die.

  19. Lie on the sofa and wait.

A Deep Listening Practice to Aid in Times Where We Find Ourselves Alone in the Same Room Far Too Often (Elis Czerniak*)

An interactive piece that enables you to build your own sound-world. It is dedicated to the late composer Pauline Oliveros in urging participants to engage in Deep Listening, a meditative state that allows one to uncover minute intricacies of sound.

 

Meditate Here:

https://deeplistening.squarespace.com/

 

Extractor Fan Duet (Edward Henderson)

 

Go into your bathroom or any room with an extractor fan

Turn it on

Stand still and listen 

Slowly move around the room: does the sound change?

Starting quietly, sing or whistle along with it

(London, April 2021)

Example performance by the composer:

 

 

 

Song to take away (Tom Roseingrave)

 

Order takeaway.

When it is delivered have your favourite song playing loud enough so that the delivery person can hear.

Don’t mention the music.

Leave a good rating, mentioning the song, saying you hope they enjoyed it.

Names: make a list of all the persons you have ever personally known or met.

(Kenneth Maue)

Four Sonic Meditations: A little light music

(John Godfrey*)

 

To be performed by one or more people in a darkened house.

 

Obtain a small torch with a fairly narrow beam. If more than one person is performing, each can use their own torch, or they can all share one.

 

With all lights off and the torch turned off, move around the house. When you feel like it, point the torch in a random direction and turn it on for a few seconds. Try to avoid pointing the torch at something with deliberation.

 

Whatever is illuminated, imagine its sound.

 

Once you have done this for as long as you like, move on and illuminate something else.

Continue until you have mapped out your entire house. When you next walk through it in the light, listen to its symphony.

 

Variation: once you have imagined a sound, try to make it out loud

20.03.2021

Line the insides of a cardboard box with newspapers. Do this very neatly, with precise cutting and gluing, as though you were making a fine jewelery case.

(Kenneth Maue, from Remedies for Minor Nonspecific Ailments of the Soul)

 

 

 

Light a Candle (Susan Geaney)

From Text Pieces for Private Use

 

This is a sonic and visual meditative piece that can be experienced privately or performed as a solo or group for any duration. Be still. Take a Breath. Listen. Be Playful. Watch. It is important to capture the sound of the breath and flickering flame in performance. 

 

strike a match 

light a candle

watch the flame as it settles in the air

scan the shape of the still flame

take a breath

gently blow at the flame and watch it stir

listen to the flame flutter under your breath

watch the flame whirl, flap and dance as you exhale 

take a breath

extinguish.

Links

Ecliptic of Culture (https://www.instagram.com/eclipticofculture/) have a self-published print newsletter each month which costs €5 and is lovingly riso-printed and then delivered to you. It is always beautiful and a good way to find out what’s happening in the underground of Dublin right now. It is set up kind of as an event guide and since there are no events to go to these days, they have filled the last two issues with text pieces submitted by readers.

 

Robbie’s Kitt’s ‘No Handers’ mix was inspired by his late-night lockdown cycles through the Phoenix Park with his Bluetooth speaker tied to his handlebars. His idea was the trigger moment for ours, and his show Lifeline on https://listen.dublindigitalradio.com/home is well worth catching - as is all of their programming.


Edward Henderson and Timothy Cape (a Donegal native!) are two other composers whose works are featured here. They are half of the composers’ collective Bastard Assignments, who are an ongoing inspiration! https://bastardassignments.com/

 

David Helbich’s work is directly relevant to this project, particularly pieces like Scores for looking out the window. Most of us had workshops with David in 2019, which were organised by Tonnta.  

 

For Kirkos, it all goes back to the Fluxus Workbook, which is available for free download on monoskop. Link An incredible trove of text pieces!

 

Find out more about our commissioned artists:
Eimear Walshe

Robbie Blake
Elis Czerniak
John Godfrey
Susan Geaney
Judith Ring
Rachel Ní Chuinn

Floorboard Meditation
Espresso: microsonata
canon.jpg
grapefruit.jpg
perfume john godfrey - photo yseult.jpg
John Godfrey Perfume
Judith Ring.png
Self Clean graphic score.jpg
Sound Walk
Sound Walk, Vienna.jpeg
Speech for Derelict Spaces
robbie blake hope for nmd site.png

Hope (Robbie Blake*)

Click here to order Hope: http://kirkosensemble.com/hope

Hope is a postcard piece  (limited edition of 35) which will be posted to your house free of charge by the composer.

 

(image by Irene Mansoldo)

Poem for the Builders
(Tom Roseingrave)

Try and locate the exact centre of your home. 

Stand, lie, or kneel there (whatever is most comfortable. If you’d prefer to do it privately, do the same in your own room.)

 

Close your eyes, and stretch out your arms to feel the whole dimensions of the entire room or building. 

 

Imagine the construction of the house. 

Picture the builders finishing different jobs: the roof, painting the house, the plastering, fitting the kitchen.

Vocalise, or with an instrument play, three sounds of thanks imagining the very moment they finished their job. 

Make the sounds with the intention of the builders somehow perceiving them

Johnny Ronan piece mock-up.jpg
For Animating Ashes
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Play Along Washing Up Piece
 
Sounds for Safekeeping Image.jpg

Sounds for Safekeeping (Robert Coleman)

Take a mental note of your favourite sounds you hear during your day. At the end of the day place these sounds carefully into a shoebox for safekeeping.

When you want to revisit these sounds take the lid off and listen to what's inside.