Kerry L. Hagan
Kerry is a composer and researcher working in both acoustic and computer media. She develops real-time methods for spatialization and stochastic algorithms for musical practice. Her work endeavours to achieve aesthetic and philosophical aims while taking inspiration from mathematical and natural processes. In this way, each work combines art with science and technology from various domains. Her works have been performed in Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas.
Kerry performs regularly with Miller Puckette as the Higgs whatever, and with John Bowers in the Bowers-Hagan Duo.
As a researcher, Kerry's interests include real-time algorithmic methods for music composition and sound synthesis, spatialization techniques for 3D sounds and electronic/electroacoustic musicology. Her research has been presented in international conferences around the world.
In 2010, Kerry led a group of practitioners to form the Irish Sound, Science and Technology Association, where she served as President until 2015.
Currently, Kerry is a Lecturer at the University of Limerick in the Digital Media and Arts Research Centre. She is the Principal Investigator for the Spatialization and Auditory Display Environment (SpADE) and President of the International Computer Music Association.
Selected Works
2021. Memento Mori, binaural real-time Pd composition.
2019. Transmogrificaciones Incesantes, four-channel fixed medium electroacoustic work for Festival Atemporánea, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
2019. Agus í á bá,, for RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and electronics.
2018. remnant, sound installation and optional performance (alto flute, trombone, percussion, piano) by Miller Puckette and Kerry Hagan.
2018. Improvisations, improvised electronics by John Bowers and Kerry Hagan.
2017. Who Was That Timbre I Saw You With?, improvised electronics by Miller Puckette and Kerry Hagan.
2017. plangent/perdu, Pd composition for WFS or high-density loudspeaker array.
2017. wave/particle for bass, A clarinet and computer.
2017. nyx, real-time Pd composition, stereo or multichannel.
2016. resolution, Pd composition for the Cube at the Moss Center for the Arts, Virginia Tech.
2016. Homage to Saariaho, laptop improvisation by Kerry Hagan.
2016. Hack Lumps, improvised electronics by Miller Puckette and Kerry Hagan.
2015. s/d, real-time Pd composition, multichannel.
2014. requiem for B-flat clarinet and computer.
2014. Cubic Zirconia, fixed medium (124 channels) for the Cube at the Moss Center for the Arts, Virginia Tech.
2012. ...of pulses and times..., real-time Pd composition.
2011. (bass) for bass.
2011. Morphons and Bions, real-time Pd composition, multichannel.
2007. ophelia's revenge for violin duet and computer.
2002. t.R.,m.f.a.c-c. for cello.
2000. consacré à for piccolo.
2000. (duo) for percussion and cello.
1999. gewidmet for violin.
Memento Mori
2021. Binaural, real-time Pd composition.
'Remember that you die.'
Although there are many objets d'art and musical forms arising from the macabre reminder of death, the Renaissance practice of the memento mori or vanitas still life is, perhaps, the most replete with symbolism. Common images include the obvious, such as skulls or skeletons, but also represent other fleeting, fading themes: decaying fruit, cut flowers, recently snuffed candles (the smoke still present but the flame extinguished), hourglasses in mid-count, soap bubbles floating above a skull, spilled chalices, and so on.
In this work, the entire form derives from a near-infinite reverb of a complex, layered impulse. The impulse lasts mere 10ths of a second, but the remainder of the work is the prolonged reverberation tail, freezing the impulse in time. As the piece dies away, elements of the complex sound swell in and out of the foreground, allowing time to investigate each symbol in the still life.
A Pure Data patch generates Momento Mori in real time, which is the preferred presentation of the work. Random processes select the layers to emerge or fade throughout the course of the work. Though no element moves through space, random draws determine the fixed location of each layer at the start of the patch. Therefore, each live instantiation of the work is different than previous performances.
Agus í á bá, (As she drowned,)
2019. For symphony orchestra and electronics.
The longest river in Ireland, the Shannon, played crucial parts in the history of Limerick and, of course, the entire Shannon region. The river continues to impact local economy and culture, from power generation to geographical boundaries. It is a source of unique research opportunities in marine biology. And its course from the Shannon Pot to the Atlantic Ocean passes through many regions and cultures of Irish life. The river was named for Sionann, the granddaughter of Lir. In different versions of the story, Sionann died as a result of reaching for the fruit of knowledge. Whether she ate the fruit directly, whether it was a berry or something else, or whether Sionann ate a salmon that ate a berry is a matter of who tells the tale. Whether it was because women were banned from knowledge, or all humans were banned, or whether Sionann herself was cursed, the consequences of gaining her knowledge caused the waters to overflow, or perhaps break a dam of some kind, and wash her out to sea. In contrast, Fionn mac Cumhaill became a great warrior for similar actions. Whether the Shannon river already existed, or whether this flood created the Shannon river, Sionann's tale gave the Shannon river its name. Whether it was the fruit she ate or some demi-god-like powers of a granddaughter of Lir, Sionann may have infused the river with the source of life and prosperity in the Shannon region. Depending on the version of the tale, the story leads to fascinating observations on water myths, the feminine in mythology, the feminine in post-Christian Ireland and a myriad of thought-provoking questions on religion, gender and origin. If there is any story to be told, the title and the ending of the piece is the point: the story of Sionann continues, both drowned and still drowning. And, the story of the Shannon region is ongoing, more of a question than a conclusion.
Jonathan O'Neill, Síle de Cléir, Nora Ní Mhurchu (agus a máthair): Thug siad cúnamh dom le gramadach na Gaeilge. Is liomsa amháin aon bhotún atá ann.
My colleagues at the University of Limerick, the folks at The Contemporary Music Centre (Ireland), Dave Fennessy, Steve Ashby and Erik Gustafsson: Agus í á bá, would not exist if not for their time, resources and assistance.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh.
  • Stereo recording (.wav)
  • Video by RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of the Composer Lab broadcast, featuring Daniel McDermott, Peter Fahy, Kerry Hagan and Sam Perkin
Transmogrificaciones Incesantes
2019. Four-channel fixed medium.
En ocasión del Festival Atemporánea 2019, compuse esta obra como tributo a mis amigos argentinos y con el fin conectar algunas impresiones sonoras de mis países con Argentina. Los sonidos provienen de lugares en Irlanda y se combinan con sonidos sintetizados que se transforman de uno en el siguiente. Las transformaciones son un poco extrañas o alquímicas, de ahí el título. Los elementos se pueden clasificar en sonidos ambientales, modelos estocásticos de instalaciones de arte sonoro, así como alusiones musicales que tienen relevancia (velada) para mí y mis enlaces con Argentina a través de mis amistades.
  • Coming soon.
2017. Real-time Pd composition for stereo or multichannel.
This generative work can be run automatically or performed live, if desired. Automatic playback is preferred. Nyx (Night) was the daughter of Chaos, sister of Erebus (Darkness). Before the world was Chaos, and from Chaos, Nyx and Erebus were born. Zeus is the son of Nyx. This piece relies on chaos maps to create timbres and colours of noise. These maps are then passed through phase vocoders, time stretched and pitch-shifted, and presented against the original sounds. This work was originally conceived as an etude.
2018. Sound installation and optional live performance, Miller Puckette and Kerry Hagan
Our sound and music installation explores presence and absence by revealing the acoustic disturbances caused in an interior space when bodies occupy it. Through sound alone, we can sense the presence of others by the subtle changes their bodies make to the environment. In this work, we use those sonic disturbances to make an oblique statement of presence and absence, making the absent bodies themselves audible as acoustic reflections and shadows. The work is primarily an installation intended for MISE-EN_PLACE Bushwick. However, its construction allows it to be transported to other locations, making MISE-EN_PLACE Bushwick present in other places. It also enables members of ensemble mise-en to perform with their own shadows.
Acknowledgements: The instrumental recordings for the installation were made by Kelley Barnett (Alto Flute), Mark Broschinsky (Trombone), Josh Perry (Percussion) and Yumi Suehiro (Piano). Impulse responses were recorded from Kelley Barnett, Mark Broschinsky and Josh Perry. We would like to gratefully acknowledge the time and effort on the part of the musicians. We would also like to thank Moon Young Ha, Jordann Davis and Kelley Barnett for all their help during our residency at MISE-EN_PLACE Bushwick.
This installation can be installed in any gallery or performance space. Download all necessary materials below.
2018. Improvised duo, John Bowers and Kerry Hagan
John Bowers and I hung out in Newcastle for a few months, designing our own improvisation instruments with laptops and a variety of old, new, and off-the-shelf interfaces. Then we took some time to record a few performances. We're using chaos, cellular automata, non-linear feedback oscillators (by Bowers and Miller Puckette), and a variety of other crazies.
We're always looking for a place to hang out and make noise. If you're interested in having us come to you, or, if you're interested in joining us somewhere to make noise together, drop me a line.
Who Was That Timbre I Saw You With?
2017. Improvised duo, Miller Puckette and Kerry Hagan
The current project of the Higgs whatever. See more here.
2017. WFS or multichannel, Pd composition.
plangent/perdu is a real-time Pd composition inspired by the spatial possibilities afforded by WFS. There is one source sound created with the z12 algorithm (see Puckette 2015, SEAMUS) premiered in the work Cubic Zirconia (2014). However, this sound is 'invisible' throughout the majority of the piece. Instead, it is the source for 8 different resonators, all different processes that can only make sound as a consequence of an input source. At first, we hear the source sound exposed. But it soon disappears, and all we hear are the resonators responding to an unheard influence.
In my previous works, I aimed to create an immersive experience of frenetic but incoherent motion around the listener. However, WFS permits sound to move through or next to the listener. So this piece explores placing sounds in various points of space, still or moving.
Later, I needed to translate plangent/perdu for the 124 speaker system at the Cube at Virginia Tech. Both the technology and aspects of the spatial aesthetics had to change. The 8-channel version is a re-spatialized version of the Cube performance, which can be recorded to fixed media.
The title comes from the concept of the work: plangent, English for resonant or ringing, and perdu, originally a French word meaning 'lost' that was absorbed into English and changed to mean 'hidden'.
2017. Bass, clarinet in A, and computer.
wave/particle came about as a response to the challenge of writing for Annick Odom, a dual instrumentalist on double bass and clarinet. In working to create a unified work with such drastically different instruments, played by the same performer, images of mathematical representations of light as both wave and particle came to mind. Given the resonances between waves and particles in texture-based music, the idea for the work became a re-construction of a starting phrase. The coda of this work is an improvised phrase originally used in another composition. That phrase is deconstructed, rearranged and stretched within each section, sometimes presented as 'particles', sometimes as 'waves'. However, the deconstruction is presented in reverse, from the most remote articulation of the phrase, ending in the final reveal of the line unaltered.
2016. 64-channel, Pd composition.
resolution was the second work I composed for the Cube at Virginia Tech. Unlike Cubic Zirconia, it has 32 independent channels assigned to multiple speakers in the Cube.
The word resolution takes on several nuances depending on its context. In literature and musical form, it means the ending of a narrative. In musical phrasing, it can mean the way in which a statement cadences. In media, resolution means the quality of the sound or image, determined by the number of bytes and the size of grain or pixel. This piece, resolution, resolves in pitch, rhythm, spatialization and granularity in one long textural change. The sounds and the piece are realized in real-time in Pd. The piece can be presented as a fixed-medium work (a studio realization) or be performed live. Ideally, the piece requires at least one tier of elevated speakers.
Homage to Saariaho
2016. Improvised laptop composition.
Inspired by the work of Kaija Saariaho, Homage to Saariaho blends textures and long gestures using random processes and spectral information from sieves and a multiphonic flute tone. It also uses low frequency noise for different timbres.
Some of the processes are controlled by typed-in keyboard values. The performer types portions of a text taken from the liner notes of Maa in four languages discussing Saariaho's use of timbre and noise.
This piece was composed with a series of actions that control parameters of fixed and random gestures and textures. Following the score, one could perform this work as originally composed.
However, once the sounds and results of different actions become familiar, this work may be entirely improvised by the performer.
Hack Lumps
2016. Improvised electronics by Miller Puckette and Kerry Hagan.
Hack Lumps is an improvised duo with three unstable oscillators, 72 stochastic samplers and eight loudspeakers, which form a single musical system, in which one player's influence is gestural and the other's textural. These opposing origins combine to form an intricate, inter-related instrument. Built into this instrument is a moderate degree of unpredictability and instability, so the musicians are also contending with the dynamics of the system itself. The instrument variably lends itself to making large formal shapes and disruptive, unexpected discontinuities. Real-time spatialization clarifies the sonic results and immerses the listener in the musical processes.
2015. Real-time multichannel Pd composition.
s/d is a real-time Pd composition that continues previous threads of musical exploration while introducing new sound synthesis methods. Kerry works with "textural composition," an aesthetic that relies entirely on large, static sound masses consisting of inner details rather than perceptible sound objects. Similarly, spatialization techniques suggest high degree of sonic motility with little to no perceptible spatial trajectories or paths of sounds.
s/d utilizes an algorithm designed in collaboration with Miller Puckette, first used in Cubic Zirconia (2014). These processes are dealt with in depth in Puckette's paper, "Maximally uniform sequences from stochastic processes." (SEAMUS 2015). s/d also uses a new synthesis method developed by Miller Puckette: coupled oscillators created through non-linear feedback. By sending impulses into the oscillators, complex and rich sonorities can emerge. s/d uses 12 crafted timbres from the oscillators, which are triggered by the z12 outputs and impulse chains.
The piece follows a fixed form, where larger shapes are the unchanging scaffolding. However, random and stochastic processes make moment-to-moment decisions, meaning that each performance of the piece is unique while retaining a consistent musical identity.
2014. B-flat clarinet and computer.
requiem was started in 2004 in Paris. For such a short work, it has probably been the most difficult to write. After living on a shelf for a few years, it was further developed in San Diego, California. Again, it mouldered on a back shelf until 2013. It was finally completed in Limerick, Ireland in 2014.
The work was originally intended as a tribute to my father, but the time it needed to grow has made it more of a musical exploration of loss and remembrance in much more general and less personal ways.
The materials and clarinet-computer interaction suggest echoes and memories of itself. The clarinet part is almost choreographed instead of notated. Specific fingerings and performance techniques are given, regardless of the resulting pitches or sounds. So different instruments will sound unique. This means that every performer will bring a particular sound to the piece. These choreographed passages are intended to act as interruptions or thin echoes of the more conventional notes. The computer part both supports the clarinet material as accompaniment and echoes the clarinet material.
Cubic Zirconia
2014. 124-channel, fixed medium electroacoustic music.
Cubic Zirconia is a work composed specifically for the Cube at Virginia Tech.
Miller Puckette proposed an alternative to Markov chains, the z12 algorithm. z12 outputs chains of 12 numbers using percentages of previous outputs. In collaboration, Puckette and Hagan developed a synthesis method using z12. The processes are dealt with in depth in Puckette's paper, “Maximally uniform sequences from stochastic processes.” (SEAMUS 2015)
This work continues Kerry's work with textural composition, an approach to computer music aesthetics that relies on large sound masses developing intricate inner details over time with little to no gestural content. The sound object as a unit of sound is still relevant, but the object itself is a meta-object that the audience inhabits and experiences from within. Similarly, the spatialization is designed to immerse the audience in the object. It creates maximum motility without relying on trajectory-based mimetic movement.
...of pulses and times...
2012. Real-time Pd composition.
...of pulses and times... was inspired by interactions with students at the University of Limerick. The work is an exploration of pulse-based composing using closely related metric modulations. Many aspects of the piece are created through stochastic processes, but the performer can control the parameters. The piece can also be automatically generated with one click.
2011. Bass.
I first met Dan Bodwell in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1992. We lost touch for many years shortly after that. One day, almost 20 years later, a Dan Bodwell was lined up to play in Limerick, Ireland. I thought: there is no way it's the same Dan Bodwell. Of course, it was. Dan asked me for a piece in 1992. I finally wrote it in 2011.
The recording of (bass) was made by Christopher Williams.
Morphons and Bions
2011. Real-time multichannel Pd composition.
Morphons and Bions is a real-time Pd composition that explores noise-based synthesis techniques and random processes to create the impression of living mechanisms. These mechanisms live and grow independently until reaching a critical mass, when they become a single organism. The morphologically independent sounds combined with the sounds that behave together as a single organ give rise to the title. As a real-time piece, the details of each realisation changes from performance to performance. However, the consistent timbres and overall form of the work retains the piece's identity.
All sounds in the work are synthesised. The sound sources rely fundamentally on white noise and digital noise mediated by classical synthesis techniques and random processes. Since the work is built on a substrate entirely made of noise, the piece is situated within certain philosophical and aesthetic issues surrounding noise, its use, and its definition. This piece is not, however, 'noise music.' Despite the acoustic groundings in noise, the sounds exhibit harmonic and quasi-harmonic behaviors, especially as the sounds develop in the course of the work. Ultimately, the piece crosses back and forth over the thin line of “sound” and “noise,” where both are valid musical materials.
ophelia's revenge
2007. Violin duet and computer.
The violin parts in ophelia's revenge are much like chorused lines of thought, each reaching the same conclusion in concurrent and parallel fashion. The computer presents the material from the violins as either a simultaneous reflection of the violins, slowed and examined more closely, or as distant reminiscences that, like aftershocks, fade over time. The computer does not introduce any new timbres; these thoughts come from the same mind that is coming to one, considered decision.
Commissioned by János Négyesy and Päivikki Nykter, this work for two violins and computer explores musical suspension. Through a sudden shift in material, echoed in places by the computer material, the piece runs frantically up a cliff and jumps off. The moment of time before the fall is frozen, the musical material is suspended, hovering in air.
Special thanks to Miller Puckette, Christopher Tonkin, and Ben Hackbarth for assistance and resources. The computer part was realized at the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts, UC San Diego, California.
2002. Cello.
This piece was written for Reynard Rott.
consacré à
2000. Piccolo.
This piece is part of the dedicated to series, including gewidmet for violin, tiomnú for clarinet, and dedicated to for Disklavier and computer.
2000. Percussion and cello.
(duo) is the first work where I attempted to create a non-normative experience of musical time and space. By writing for the instruments with pitches and techniques designed to blur which instrument is creating each sound, very small pitch and timbre spaces are magnified and frozen for exploration.
The piece was originally composed for Hugh Livingston and Ivan Manzanilla. The recording provided here is by Reynard Rott and Ivan Manzanilla.
1999. Violin.
This piece is part of the dedicated to series, including consacré à for piccolo, tiomnú for clarinet, and dedicated to for Disklavier and computer.
Selected Publications
  1. Hagan, K. 2021. "The Matter of Space." First : Listen, The Journal of Critical Listening through Music (Spring). Reprint of Hagan, Kerry. 2019. "The Matter of Space." in Roger Reynolds Tributes. Adam Greene, ed. San Diego: Senza Misura Music Publishing, 53-66.
  2. Hagan, K. 2020. "Seeds and Mutations: Connections and Divergences in the Materials of Unsuk Chin's Xi." in Between the Tracks: Musicians on Selected Electronic Music. Puckette, M; Hagan, K, eds. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  3. Puckette, M; Hagan, K. eds. 2020. Between the Tracks: Musicians on Selected Electronic Music. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  4. Hagan, K. 2019. "Book review: The Oxford Handbook of Algorithmic Music." Organised Sound 24(1): 109-110.
  5. Bowers, J; Hagan, K. 2019. "Improvisation at the Edge of Chaos: A Worked-Through Design and Performance Practice for Electronic Improvisation." International Computer Music Conference-New York City Electronic Music Festival (in publication).
  6. Puckette, M; Hagan, K. 2019. "Remnant: exploring presence and absence through acoustic disturbances in space." International Computer Music Conference-New York City Electronic Music Festival (in publication).
  7. Hagan, K. 2017. "Textural Composition: Aesthetics, Techniques, and Spatialization for High-Density Loudspeaker Arrays." Computer Music Journal 41(1): 34-45.
  8. Hagan, K. 2016. "Book review: Broadening Horizons." Organised Sound 21(3): 274-275.
  9. Hagan, K. 2016. "The Intersection of 'Live' and 'Real-time'." Organised Sound 21(2): 138-146.
  10. Hagan, K. 2014. "How Live is Real-Time?" Proceedings of the Electroacoustic Music Studies Conference, Berlin.
  11. Hagan, K. 2013. "The Noise of Morphons and Bions." Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference, Perth, 376-379.
  12. Hagan, K. 2012. "Different Walks for Different Talks: Finding the Meaningful in Electroacoustic Music." Proceedings of the Electroacoustic Music Studies Conference, Stockholm.
  13. Hagan, K. 2012. "Aesthetic and Philosophical Implications of Noise in Morphons and Bions (2011)." Proceedings of the Music, Mind, and Invention Workshop, New Jersey.
  14. Hagan, K. 2011. "Aesthetic Considerations in Algorithmic and Generative Composition." Chaos Theory: Modeling, Simulation and Applications. Skiadis, CH, Dimotikalis, I, and Skiadas, C, eds. London: World Scientific Press, 183-190.
  15. Hagan, K. 2008. "Textural Composition: Implementation of an Intermediary Aesthetic." Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference, Belfast, 509-514.
  16. Hagan, K. 2008. "Textural Composition and its Space." Proceedings of the Sound and Music Computing Conference, Berlin, 100-106.
  17. Hagan, K. 2005. "Genetic Analysis of Xenakis' Analogique B." Proceedings of the Electroacoustic Music Studies Conference, Montreal.
Kerry L. Hagan
Want patches in a different speaker layout? Want a recording in a different format? Need a score? Feel free to contact me.