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o ire

Fells, Nick

o ire is a framework for sonic performance using solo laptop and ambisonic sound spatialisation. It is partly an instrument and partly a composition; in essence it is a set of resources for improvisation. 

The core of the piece comprises a set of Max patches with accompanying instructions and guidelines for performance. Binaural audio and video recordings of performances (both live and studio performances) are provided. A range of recordings is included to illustrate some of the ways in which the work changes from performance to performance and is adaptable to different performance contexts.

The zip file provided here contains all the files comprising the o ire project. Note that the project can only be properly accessed on an Apple Mac platform – some elements (specifically the explanatory html microsite with associated START HERE link, and video recordings in mp4 format) may not operate correctly on other platforms. However, all files can be navigated across platforms using a file browser via the folders outlined below.

On downloading and unpacking the zip file, on a Mac, open the 'start here' file located in the main project folder. This will open the html microsite in a web browser. This microsite outlines the research process and provides links to the instructions, performance materials and recordings.

If viewing the project in a file browser, the folders are organised as follows:

       html: contains an html microsite that explains the process and provides structured access to the materials.

       media: contains all the project files, organised into the following sub-folders –

                      contextual docs:

                               notes on performing with spatial sound (pdf)

                               schematics for the iski light-based controller (pdf)

                      directions & instructions:

                               setup instructions (pdf)

                               operating guide (pdf)

                               performance directions (pdf)

                      patches & samples:

                                zip file containing Max patch (0-top-X.maxpat) and supporting files

                                zip file containing sample library extract (source sounds for main Max patch)

                      performance programmes:

                                programmes and information about past performances (pdf, jpg)


                                audio recording of Data-X Symposium performance (wav, binaural audio)

                                video recordings of studio-based performances (mp4, binaural audio)


The file ‘START HERE’ links to about.html in the html folder, providing quick access to the explanatory microsite.

o ire arose out of a process of experimentation with the live manipulation of historical and field recordings, investigating their transformation through presentation in a range of different spatial contexts. This developed into a broad framework of spatial dynamics using simple relations such as inward/outward, here/there, and through/between, explored through 'waves' over time and combined with other spectral and textural manipulations. This in turn led to the creation of tools that would facilitate the simultaneous handling of spatial parameters alongside the spectral, temporal and textural qualities of the sonic material, and this process culminated in o ire. A performance of the work then embodies a live instance of this process of investigation, comprising an exploration of the implicit spaces and surfaces inherent in the recorded material. The aim is the creation of an intimate, immersive experience for the audience, inviting them to come close by to the personal sonic world of the performer. For this reason, the performer is invited to supplement or replace the sound library included here with their own curated or collected sonic materials.

The piece requires Max software running on a Mac laptop with Mira and Parat+ apps running on two Apple iPads. It requires a range of additional Max packages from a number of developers. It also uses custom-made hardware in the form of a simple Arduino-based light sensitive controller developed by the composer. Details are included in the zip file. Performance is open in duration but usually lasts from 15-40 minutes. 

o ire was premièred as part of the Open CUBE series at the Institute of Electronic Music in Graz in January 2015; the piece was continuously reworked between 2015 and 2019 and used in a range of performance contexts.

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