A drummer and composer whose music enthusiastically defies category, Sean Noonan prefers the title “Rhythmic Storyteller” – an apt description for a modern-day sonic griot who spins imaginative yarns in the ancient tradition of wandering minstrels while weaving captivating narrative tapestries via his unique polyrhythmic language. His compositions portray discoveries from a "wandering folk" theory where he spans the globe collecting and adapting stories, legends and folklore of diverse cultural traditions.
"Independence might be the ruling concept of this drummer/leader’s career. It defines a common relationship not only among his hands, feet, and voice, but between his art and almost everything else in drumland". Modern Drummer Magazine
Latest News: Bartalk explores the psychological stresses caused by Solitary Confinement.
Bartalk, is a 23 hour durational solo installation for speaking percussionist performed at the Dry Stone Wall Maze in Dalby Forest in June 2021 exposing the psychological effects of 23 hours of daily torture and subsiquent the temporal perceptual shifts heightened through my containment in a soundproof booth. I will map the 23 hour solo performance on an electro-acoustic drum kit and later analyze my findings to compose a 60 minute monodrama for the Ligeti Quartet and speaking percussionist to be premiered in 2022. I will take the position of the unknown inmate gradually succumbing to the effects of solitary confinement, articulated through a series of soliloquies based on collected testimonials from inmates giving the audience an insight into their metaphysical perception of time. I will narrate the piece from behind a soundproof cell, completely isolated from the audience, ensemble and the sound engineer is part of the composition process. Bartalk is part of a larger multi-artform project working with sculptor, Peter Maris, in a series of sculptural reinterpretations with QR codes linking to documentation of sculptures hosted online. Bartalk hopes to advocate for those who have suffered this cruel and unusual punishment and to increase awareness, and to spark a dialogue for better criminal justice reform.
New Project Coming Soon: Sean Noonan and The Polytempics
Polytemporal music is composed using two or more different simultaneous tempos or speeds. Henry Cowell first envisioned polytemporal theories of divisive rhythm in his treatise New Musical Resources (1919), discovering a way to structure rhythmic duration in a similar way that had been achieved with harmony, that pitch intervals, and polyrhythms are manifestations of the same phenomenon, differentiated only by speed. This became the main inspiration for Conlon Nancarrow's 50 Studies for Player Piano (1948-92) which synthesized the two main conventions in which rhythm is composed (divisive or additive approaches) but, crucially, were written to be played by a machine.
Nancarrow's composition process is to experiment with tempo and duration with the player piano. My practice is using the concepts from Nancarrow's player piano to expand the potential of the live performer. My objective is to experiment with tempo and duration by designing and developing technology to work with the performer rather than replace him/her by utilizing an interactive electro-acoustic drum kit utilizing contact microphones (Sensory Percussion) and computer software to analyze, compose and perform polytemporal music.
Music has many ways to distort our sense of time perception, for example, durations may seem to last longer with greater stimulus intensity in loudness or pitch. The human brain processes, adjusts and recalibrates rhythm and temporal perception from connections between the various parts of the brain, encoding and decoding sequential information allowing us to navigate in our physical world. Polytemporal music, by inflecting our perception of time intervals, time durations or judging simultaneity of events, offers opportunities to manipulate this perception of time itself; for example, by utilizing two ostinatos at ‘dissonant’ tempos of 5-against-7, the listener experiences a temporal illusion - momentarily perceiving time as slowing down, stopping, speeding up, or even running backward, as the timing and temporal order of events are misperceived. There are several types of temporal illusions in which music can manipulate the listeners' perception of time that I will explore in this new music project.
Drumavox fuses the drum set with the Sardinian a cappella choir from the Zappanation Rock Opera and on April 23, 2020 will perform music from our debut album @ Jazzino, Cagliari, Italy Though voice and percussion have a long history in human musical development, the concept of a modern music ensemble using only four voices and percussion has been rarely explored.