Musical instruments are dynamic systems – not static “conservable” objects, but items in a constant state of change, seasoning, adjustment and decay. They are also crucial indices of human activity – narratives of use and value – which can frequently only be appreciated through being actively engaged with. Without such intimate engagement, knowledge is lost. Often the real experts in “conservation” are not conservators, but those ‘private collectors’ who engage in active dialogue with their instruments – players. […] by Simon Waters (UK | Northern Ireland)
Simon Waters (UK | Northern Ireland)
Simon Waters joined the staff of the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast in September 2012, moving from his previous role as senior lecturer and Director of Electroacoustic Studios at the University of East Anglia (1994 – 2012). He is also an associate researcher of the Orpheus Instituut, Gent (2016-present). In the 1980s he established a reputation as a composer of electroacoustic music, working with many of the world’s major contemporary dance companies. His more recent work is at least as concerned with human conduct (what people do musically) as with how things sound. He teaches performance and composition, and has also taught courses in interaction design, improvisation, and music and material culture. He is preoccupied by instrument making in the broadest sense, which leads him both to build experimental instruments and to research the technologies on which music depends, whether these are historical or contemporary. He has supervised over fifty research students in areas as diverse as improvising machines and autonomous instruments, inexpertise in musical interaction, silence and silencedness, sound and the built environment, digital ethnography, post-club music, and the 3D modelling of historic instruments, as well as in more explicitly ‘compositional’ areas. His publications are similarly diverse, recent examples exploring empathy and ethics in improvised conduct, woodwind instrument production in eighteenth century London, the notion of the ‘local’ in a ubiquitously digitized world, and hybrid physical/virtual instrument design.