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inside voice

a new work for one or more electronically enhanced, 3D print-modified bassoons

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Christin Schillinger Performs A Rift Within at Ithaca College

Posted on June 3, 2018 by Seth Cluett
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At the close of the grant year, I’m excited we had the opportunity to workshop this piece last year at New Music Gathering in a lecture demo about Bassoon acoustics and 3d printed modifications. The piece toured with Christin and was played by Rebekah Heller and Nanci Belmost  in collaboration with Nokia Bell Labs as part of my residency work there. The software developed for the project was used in workshops with high school and college students to learn about the resonance of the bassoon, and we had an unexpected development in the realization that by playing sine tones into the instrument, details are revealed about the tuning of the reed that have substantial pedagogical implications. The modifications to the bassoon developed during the creation of A Rift Within (Inside Voice 1) has led to other commissions and performances, notably a new piece in the series commissioned by flutist Barbara Held for her exhibition at Juan Naranjo Gallery in Barcelona, a piece for 3d print modified Violin premiered by Morgan Evans-Weiler at New Music Gathering 2018 in Boston, and a chamber ensemble commission from International Contemporary Ensemble to premiere in the fall of 2018.

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Rebekah Heller prepares A Rift Within for presentation to Bell Labs researchers

Posted on May 31, 2018 by Seth Cluett

As part of the outreach for the project, Rebekah Heller and Nanci Belmont prepared the ‘inside voice’ piece ‘A Rift Within’ for a lecture demo with researchers at Bell Labs about the unexpected haptic feedback created by the loudspeaker

christin schillinger takes ‘a rift within’ on tour

Posted on April 15, 2018 by Seth Cluett

In October, Christin took the modified bassoon on tour in Texas for shows at the University of North Texas and and UT Austin… we’re preparing a studio recording of the work this spring and will post video and audio soon!

3D printed modification

Posted on March 2, 2018 by Seth Cluett

3d printed modification for the bassoon, ready to go!


I am seeking support from New Music USA for the research and development, fabrication, and recording of a new work for one or more electronically enhanced bassoons. The work uses a composer-designed 3D printed device containing a loudspeaker and a microphone that is inserted into the bell joint of the bassoon. This device modifies the acoustics of the instrument from the inside creating complex timbres that interact with music composed with traditional fingerings. The work has been accepted for performance at New Music Gathering in May of 2017 and will be recorded by Christin Schillinger for her third CD of new music for bassoons on March 30th 2017. Plans for a tour of the work are being developed for the 2017/18 concert season.

As a bassoonist prior to attending conservatory as a composer, the acoustics of the instrument have held a special fascination: As a young performer, I would create low frequency extensions with paper towel tubes and modify film canisters to make mutes that would rattle and buzz. Inside voice is a work that uses my formal knowledge of instrumental acoustics and digital fabrication techniques to create complex new sounds for the bassoon in the context of my quiet, meditative musical practice. Rather than a simple instrument and electronics work, this project seeks to explore the potential of electronically altering the acoustics from the inside out.

My work often uses a blend between open and explicit notation styles. Christin Schillinger and Rebekah Heller and I are exploring the possibility that this piece be composed in such a way that the performance of the work can be scaled for both solo and duo as well as ensemble performance. To this end, I have developed a notation system in the score that varies the instructions based on the number of performers producing the work. This is particularly useful for exposing multiple members of a university bassoon studio to the work.

Lastly, the digital fabrication presents a unique opportunity to use this piece as a workshop for STEAM education. By making the 3D printed component of the project available for free online, any university or high school with a 3D printer could print and explore the acoustics of the bassoon. It is my intent to develop this workshop for outreach to high school and university programs in the year following the premiere and recording of the work.

By enabling a thorough approach to the development of this work, the New Music USA project grant would create the opportunity to stretch commission funds to bring this kind of hybrid science and technology and creative research project to a broad range of students and audiences. The raw materials and techniques learned during this process will provide a catalyst for future works exploring instrumental acoustics through 3D printing.

Project Media

objects in stillness
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Features: Seth Cluett

objects in stillness (2006 for Clogs; revised 2016 for International Contemporary Ensemble) is the first piece I wrote exploring bassoon acoustics. The pitches of the piece orchestrate timbral effects throughout the ensemble that interact directly with the bassoon and vice versa. This work is the origin of the collaboration between myself and Rebekah Heller and the the 2011 CD of the same name on Line records was Christin Schillinger’s first exposure to my work.

the deformation of figures
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Features: Seth Cluett

This 55-minute solo work for bass drum and sine-wave actuator was commissioned by ex-So Percussion member Tim Feeney for premiere at ICEBOX project space in Philadelphia in 2015. This work is the most recent piece in my series of solo works exploring instrument acoustics that ‘inside voice’ would be a part of. This work uses a transducer placed on the drum head to alter the vibration pattern the instrument. The performer bridges the drum surface with a metal plate and strikes the head in patterns that create slowly changing clouds of pitches.

the little by little suddenly
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Features: Seth Cluett

This work was commissioned for a multi-city tour in 2010 by the Berlin-based guitarist Seth Josel. the little by little suddenly is the first work in a series of acoustically enhanced solo instrument pieces I’ve written since 2009. In this piece, two loudspeakers are placed inside the guitar body. The loudspeakers play sine tones that slowly move between resonant frequencies of the cavity, altering the response of the instrument to the performers explicitly notated gestures.

Start and End Dates



Hoboken, New Jersey

4 updates
Last update on June 3, 2018

Project Created By

Hoboken, New Jersey
Seth Cluett is an American composer and artist whose work includes installation, concert music, performance, photography, and critical writing. His “subtle…seductive, immersive” (Artforum) sound work has been characterized as “rigorously focused and full of detail” (e/i) and “dramatic, powerful, and at one with nature” (The Wire). The recipient of awards from Meet the Composer, the…

In Collaboration With

Oxford, Ohio
Brooklyn, New York


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