Permutations at RIBA North

Permutations is installed in the Wintergarden on the waterfront in Liverpool for the duration of May 2019. It will be RIBA North’s contribution to the city wide LigthNight festival and has been featured as part of RISE Liverpool, an season of women artists in Liverpool. This video was taken by one of the crew members that helped to install Permutations before the safety gates were taken down - the sound was being tested and you can still hear the sounds of scaffolding deconstruction and a scissor lift in the background.

Permutations in the media

Permutations has featured on various media platforms. You can read articles about it in the Financial Times, Architecture Today, and After Nyne Magazine

The music has been broadcast on the BBC’s Record Review and In Tune, on the Women’s Radio Station as part of the ‘Future Classics Awards’ interview with nominee Freya Waley-Cohen, on SoundArt Radio’s Dartington Arts Platform, as well as by the Dutch Radio Station Concertzender on their Sunday Morning Radio Monalise programme. 

Permutations was listed in the Ulysses Audience Research Blog as a highlight of the 2017 Aldeburgh Festival, and the music has been reviewed by BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone Magazine, Classics Today, Planet Hugill, and Early Music Reviews

Premiere at Snape Maltings

We were delighted to have Permutations premiere at the Aldeburgh Festival, open from June 10th-16th 2017. The photographs show the chambers installed here in the Jerwood Kiln Studio at Snape Maltings. 

The chambers were prefabricated and installed by Tandem Set and Scenery. Bespoke stools were fabricated by Tenement Design in Glasgow.

Photos by Andrew Skulina & Matt Jolly, Snape Maltings

Permutations Prints


As part of the Permutations premiere at the Aldeburgh Festival, 10th-16th June 2017, we made a series of limited edition risograph prints which explore the varying levels of enclosure offered by opening and closing the chamber doors. These were exhibited in Aldeburgh Music's Hoffmann Building in an exhibition showcasing the project's evolution under their Open Space residency programme. 

Printed by Risotto Studio, Glasgow.

Prints are available to purchase, please if interested!



A series of photographs describing the 1:1 mock-ups and prototyping completed out as part of the detailed design development.

This process has been critical in testing and resolving the system of components that form each of the chambers.

Working with Tandem Set & Scenery, we have been exploring various ways of preparing the steel frame to allow it to be rapidly constructed and deconstructed for production purposes. This has involved testing different methods of bolting and clamping the sections together and identifying suitable hinges for the corners to the chambers.

In parallel with resolving the design of the structure, we have also been reviewing samples for the finishes. We have worked with Tandem to identify robust materials to fabricate the pivoting doors and panels. These are designed to create an acoustically absorbent, felt lined interior and a flush, hard wearing timber lined finish on the exterior. It has been an involved process, testing a variety of timbers and different coloured stains whilst simultaneously experimenting with solutions for fabricating the undulating substrate to the felt which has been one of the greatest challenges in terms of ensuring adequate acoustic performance.

The same felt used to line the interior of the panels will be fixed to the reveal of the doors to create a recessed seal around all of the moving parts, helping reduce the extent of the sound transmission when the doors are all closed.

At high level in the chambers, we have been exploring different methods of integrating the 'invisible' Mobius-7 speakers from Amina Technologies, testing the height at which these perform best. We have also been reviewing options for the reflective 'skylight', testing different metal and acrylic laminate finishes and the translucent polycarbonate panels intended to diffuse the external lighting that will gently illuminate the interiors.

1401 - Mock-up in workshop




Testing Venues




These drawings were produced as part of our process of finding and testing different venues in their capacity to host Permutations. 

Touring is a critical aspect in the life of the project. Due to its nature as 6 travelling chambers, it can function in a great variety of spaces and the contingency inherent in the touring process is welcomed. Each time Permutations travels to a new location, the host venue lends character to the listener’s experience of the piece, both acoustically and experientially. 







As another branch of the project, Aldeburgh Music asked me to write a piece that grows out of Permutations but can be performed by Tamsin as part of a solo recital. For this I wrote Likeness, for live solo violin and five recorded parts.

Likeness uses the musical characters and material developed in Permutations, while playing with the relationship between the immediacy and vibrancy of live performance and its recorded counterpart. The recorded parts are spatially distributed around the venue - in this case the Britten Studio at Snape - so that the audience is surrounded by the 6 parts but facing the live part. This accentuated the dialogue between the music and its acoustic setting as well as between the parts themselves.

As part of the programme, we gave a pre-concert talk in the Britten Studio in which we traced our creative process and relationships throughout the project. Since this collaboration is critical to the project, we found this a particularly rewarding experience, having received a positive and engaged response from our audience. 





Using the some of the material I had written for Permutations, I wrote Tamsin a solo violin piece. Approaching this work, I attempted to create a sense of simultaneity of different musical materials through a process of juxtaposition. I began by adapting several of the different characters Permutations into solo material, and expanding on them in this capacity. When we were in Nikola Lenivets I had recorded myself in various acoustics improvising around the melody of my first solo violin sketch, written to experiment with in Eaton Square church originally. I went back to these recordings and chose various fragments from my improvisations to notate. I then treated them as the centre of the work, while the other characters formed a cumulative collage of material leading the listener away from the melodic line gradually. I imagined each of the characters as different interweaving pathways around a central thread, that would eventually fall away to reveal, or unveil the melody in its original form. 



Recording Permutations in the Kiln


During the last of our spring 2015 residencies at Aldeburgh, Tamsin and I recorded two of my six-part sketches. It was the first time she'd played any of the material for the six part sketches. We did this very simply using click tracks, a zoom recorder and logic. Some of the difficulties we experienced taught us more about how we will need to record Permutations when it is time to record the piece in full. This was a way of sharing what I had been writing with people at Aldeburgh as well as with Finbarr, Andrew and Tamsin. 

The two sketches we recorded, currently known as the Tuesday sketch and the Thursday sketch, each make use the space in a different way. 

One of the questions I had to begin to grapple with when writing the six-part sketches was whether the music could or should exert any control over the audience’s movements within the chamber. I suppose it is impossible to tell at this point whether listeners will be directed by the music in the way that I expect. The decision I made during the spring time residencies at Aldeburgh was that each of the sketches would play with the space in a different way, creating different relationships between the listener and the music around them. The Tuesday sketch directs the audience to the central chamber more than any of the others, although experiencing the it from one of the chambers would fragment and emphasise certain parts of the line. 

The Thursday sketch will be the opening of Permutations. Arriving into the chambers, the opening chords envelop the listener in sound from all sides. This will serve to aurally map out the entire space within Permutations for the audience. The nature of the chords is such that depending on a listener's movements or position, they will be given a different impression of the tonality of the opening of Permutations