30.01.2015 HEXXED: Live at Whelans, Dublin

I'll be playing electric piano and organ with the Metal band HEXXED in Whelans on the 30th of January. Should be good craic - it'll be my first gig in Whelans since 1991!

You can hear a recent interview with band on Metal Ireland, which also has the tracks from their latest EP, Hidden Graphs. Get Hidden Graphs on iTunes, or Spotify.

Check out their much much heavier 2010 album The Synapse Collision.

2014 '71: David Holmes OST

I've really enjoyed working with the amazing David Holmes recently. I played some piano on his OST for the film, '71 (although you don't hear it as piano after he's worked his magic on it).

Check out the trailer.
You can get David's OST on vinyl, or get it on iTunes.

06.10.12 Spectral Variations Nos. 1-3 by James Tenney, The Pianola Museum, Amsterdam

Spectral Variations Nos. 1-3 by James Tenney, for Pianola
A versioning for The Pianola Museum, Amsterdam, of James Tenney's Spectral Variations.

I'm delighted to be working with Wolfgang Heisig to create actual piano rolls of the Tenney Spectral Variations for Samuel Vriezen's concert this October.

More details soon.

24. 08.12 Helen's Place: Among the Overtones (2012),Premiere, Happy Days Beckett Festival, Enniskillen

Helen's Place: Among the Overtones (2012)
Commission for the Happy Days Beckett Festival, Enniskillen.

From the Programme Note:

I remember being struck by the serialist nature of Molloy's hexed pebble distribution problem. And struck too by his attitude to the solution he presents even as he recognises its inelegance. This was Boulez's unfinished music.

But it was more - it was the process music of the minimalists, it was Schoenberg's question: how can one note follow another, it was teleology, statistical distribution, controlled random processes, ergodic.

And of course, in the end, it was entropy.

I saw that piece first in Toronto with my friend and teacher the composer James Tenney and it became the basis of many hours of our discussions. It has continued down the years strongly to resonate with my compositional concerns, and so I was delighted to be invited to create the current piece for the Happy Days Festival.

CM Béal Feirste 04.12

Venue Castle Coole, Enniskillen
Doors: 6pm

15-17.06.12 Caroline Bergvall's Battles, last.lost.grü, Grü/Transtheatre, Geneva

Electronic Text for Caroline's piece Battles commissioned for the last.lost.gru festival, Grü/Transtheatre, Geneva.

From the Press Release

Battles takes you on a journey through time and space, where languages mix, where live percussion meets live voice, where singing is speaking and sounding is vibration, where the ancient cohabits with the present. The live texts remember the call of the old poets. The ringing of the bells and the brushing of the drum punctuate the stretching of time. Ancient tales of exile and love re-emerge to shadow today’s lives and losses. There is hope and despair in such continuities. The longing at the heart of an ancient North Sea travel poem, written in Old English by an anonymous poet of the 10th century, is a reminder of the plight of many of today’s wanderers and exiles across the waters. The transformative struggles and prohibitions of love poetry are another crucial aspect of the archeaological dimension of writing, and the issues raised remain at the very heart of the struggle for pleasure and identity today.

Sometimes just to live to tell the tale is part of the battle.

Concept Caroline Bergvall. Text, live voice Caroline Bergvall. Percussion, sound treatment Ingar Zach. Video Eva Roovers & Erica Scourti. Electronic Texts Ciarán Maher. Lights Jean Michel Broillet. Spatialisation, dramaturgy, Michele Pralong.

11.03.12 Live Improvisation with Steven Henry, Listen, Belfast

listen, ciarán maher, steven henry

Improvised keyboards and electonics with Steven Henry for Barry Cullen's Listen event at the Menag'rie, Belfast.

Doors: 8pm

07.03.12 Spectral Variations Nos. 1-3, Accidental for Jim, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki [CANCELLED]

Mechanical (and) Live Music: Rhythms, Tunings, Interactions

I regret that technical dificulties have meant that these pieces won't make it for this gig - but keep an eye out for upcoming performances in London, and I hope to be back at the Sibelius Academy next year.

Mechanical (and) Live Music: Rhythms, Tunings, Interactions
Camerata, Musiikkitalo
Music by Debussy, Harvey, Maher, Mureddu, Ligeti, Nancarrow, Risset, and Tenney.
Elisa Järvi, Piano; Libero Mureddu, electronics.

06.10.11-05.02.12 Caroline Bergvall's VIA, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona

In The First Circle, Stidworthy

Caroline resites her piece VIA for headphones and reflective lettering as part of Imogen Stidworthy's In The First Circle.


15.04.11 Resiting of lidl suga (2004) by Holly Pester for Text Festival, Bury

Holly Pester's reworking of lidl suga for her installation at this year's Text Festival. Made with Caroline Bergvall for the 2004 Text Festival, lild suga was a sound installation for 6 speakers featuring Sine Wave Speech, recited text, and song.

08.05.10 - 04.07.10 Say Parsley, Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol

Commissioned siting of Say Parsley, a collaboration with Caroline Bergvall, for Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol.

From the Programme

Say Parsley is a sound and language installation created by writer Caroline Bergvall and composer Ciarán Maher. The audience is invited into a spatial environment of sparse, intricate, playful linguistic and sonic pieces that expose questions of belonging and violence.

The background to the title is the biblical 'shibboleth'; a brutal event where language itself is gatekeeper, and can become pretext to massacre.

The pronunciation of a given word or letter exposes the identity of the speaker. How you speak will be used against you. A recent example of a shibboleth was the massacre of tens of thousands of Creole Haitians on the border of the Dominican Republic in 1937, with the criteria for their execution being whether they could correctly pronounce the word "perejil" (Spanish for parsley) with a rolling 'r'.

08.05.10 PW10 Presentation and Q&A, Auditorium, Arnolfini, Bristol

Ciarán Maher, Caroline Bergvall PW10, arnolfini, bristol.

To coincide with the launch of their Arnolfini siting of Say Parsley, Caroline Bergvall & Ciarán Maher deliver a presentation to Performance Writing 10 (PW10) delegates on the nature of their collaboration.

Q&A to follow. Sign Language Interpreters Facilitate.
Arnolfini Auditorium: 1600 - 1730.

30.09.10 - 03.10.10 reAtLast: Spangled for Shop Front Cinema, Enniskillen

Siting of my electronic text piece, reAtLast:Spangled, originally produced for Postmoot, at Shop Front Cinema, Enniskillen.


27.03.09 Live Improvisation with Gráinne Maher & BEW, Ulster Hall, Belfast

ciarán maher, gráinne maher, barry cullen, ulster hall, belfast

Lunchtime concert of live improvised music at the Ulster Hall in Belfast. Ciarán Maher, piano. Gráinne Maher, voice. Barry's Electonic Workshop (Barry Cullen), live electronics.


Online: Postmoot, Electronic Texts available online

Electronic texts for Postmoot

Postmoot #1: reAtLast
Postmoot #2: reAtLast: Spangled


23.05.08 - 17.08.08 Say Parsley, MuHKA, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen

Third siting of Say Parsley - this time at MuHKA for Imogen Stidworthy's DIE LUCKY BUSH.

A sparse sound-language distillation that foregrounds the auditory illusions and perceptual games of previous sitings and includes a new data projection piece.


19.03.07 James Tenney's Spectral Variations Nos. 1 to 3, World Premiere, DNK, Amsterdam

World Premiere of Tenney's Spectral Variations Nos. 1 to 3 at DNK Amsterdam.

From the Programme Notes:

DNK Amsterdam in association with Ciarán Maher and Steim will present the world premieres of three new pieces for player piano by the late James Tenney (1934 - 2006). The pieces will be played on the St. Conlon Disklavier, a midi-controlable grand piano, which will be retuned to produce the pitches of a harmonic series.

Φ For Ann (rising). Electronic (1998) James Tenney. Realisation by Maher.

INTERVAL: Clarence Barlow in conversation with Ciarán Maher.

Spectral CANON for CONLON Nancarrow (Extended). Player Piano (1991) James Tenney. Realisation by Barlow.

Spectral Variations Nos. 1 to 3. Player Piano (2006) James Tenney. Realisation by Maher.

Accidental for Jim. Player Piano (2006) Ciarán Maher.

Full Programme Notes from DNK (.pdf).

Venue: OT301 - Overtoom 301, Amsterdam
Doors: 2100.

My Spectral Variations Notes and Midi tests.

Online: Caroline Bergvall's VIA at pennSound

VIA is available online at pennSound as MP3 (best heard through headphones).


Online: VIsonic, with David Haughey for Visonic Festival at the Void Gallery, Derry

visonic, Ciarán Maher, Ciarán Ó Meachair, David Haughey

Part of my series of Flash pieces where the formal expostion results from the interaction of objects in a virtual sapce, I made the installation VIsonic in collaboration with the artist David Haughey for the Visonic festival and it was sited at the Void Gallery, Derry.

There's an online version here (best to play it through proper speakers or headphones).



Bio Note

I'm an Irish composer and installation artist based in Belfast. My solo work is strongly rooted in a formalist phenomenology (after Tenney and his reading of Cage), and my principal interests are in pitch perception, tuning, stochastics and the exposition of simple perceptible processes. I studied with James Tenney, Bob Gilmore, Frank Denyer, and Ronan Guilfoyle.

My main academic focus has been my friend and teacher, the American experimental composer James Tenney. A couple of years ago I generated and premiered three new variations on his Spectral CANON for retuned player piano. You can hear the tests and read my notes here, and there's a live recording of Spectral Variation No. 1 on dnk-amsterdam's site. We're going to release them on important records this year.

I'm also working on a book of my interviews with Jim from 1995, 1998, and 2000. I hope shortly to publish some interview material in a couple of MusicWorks articles (here's "James Tenney on Intention, Harmony and Phenomenology — A Different View of the Larger Picture", MusicWorks Issue 77), and I'll then start to publish some on this site.

In recent years I've been working in a number of collaborations with artists from other disciplines – most significantly with the poet Caroline Bergvall. Together, we fulfilled commissions for The Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol, MuHKA in Antwerp, the Liverpool Biennial, Spacex Galley in Exeter, and The Text Festival in Bury. We also worked together on her audio piece Via (48 Dante Translations), and on a transorfmation of her data piece Ampersand for the Text Festival and Tate Modern. Caroline's site is at:

For a while now, I've been using Flash to create environments for sound works through the spatial exposition of controlled random processes. Objects in the virtual space interact according to simple rules to produce sound. Steven Henry's helping me make apps of some of that work.

I also have a company called PYXL where we make interactive stuff, and I'm a director at Digital Arts Studios, Louth Contemporary Music Society, and Acts of Language.

I'm gradually putting together recordings of my music which i'll also upload here, and there'll be upcoming events as and when.


On James Tenney

Ciarán Maher: James Tenney on Intention, Harmony and Phenomenology — A Different View of the Larger Picture. MusicWorks Issue 77.

Ciarán Maher: Notes & Midi tests for Spectral Variations Nos. 1-3.

Bob Gilmore: James Tenney and the Poetics of Homage. Contemporary music review. VOL 27; NUMBER 1, ; 2008, 7-21


On Say Parsley

cris cheek:  On Reading and Writing the Sites of Performance (Say Parsley) "Strictly Speaking on Caroline Bergvall", ed. Sophie Robinson, How2 (vol.3 No.3, Winter'09.)

Stephen Lee:  Say Parsley, Arnolfini Gallery, Review
Art Monthly, #337 June 2010. 

Susan Rudy: A Conversation with Caroline Bergvall. Jacket 2.
Note, this interview is on Caroline's work in general, but came right on the heels of the Arnolfini installation and so there's lots of interesting stuff on Say Parsley in there.


On Caroline Bergvall's VIA

Jared Wells: Caroline Bergvall’s Deleuzian Stuttering: “Via: 48 Dante Variations” Sprattsmedium, 13 Dec. 2010.

Genevieve Kaplan:  How we read Caroline Bergvall's VIA and why we should care
Jacket #38. Late 2009.