Anastasia Clarke | AC Diamond

electronic music, performance, teaching, sound design, +++

Beyond Hexagons (2023)

Live performance and recorded album


Program Notes:

Beyond Hexagons is a live performance using custom instruments designed by the composer, including the shard-speakers. The shard-speakers are a sound sculpture, instrument, and music playback system made from pieces of broken crystal singing bowls. They are constructed by attaching tactile puck transducers with epoxy resin, and placing them atop hollow resonators. Possessing distinctive timbral qualities, visual presence, and kinetic behaviors, these instruments call for the activiation of specific acoustical properties.

In the performance practice that I call Beyond Hexagons, I bring together digital instruments that I have created to excite these properties: Washes of noise cause the transducers to vibrate in such a way that activates and mimics their “frosted” texture. Sine tones resonate the shards at their resonant frequencies, or evoke sounds of the intact bowls from which they are derived. Transient clicks cause the shards to wiggle or jump, or the transducer to literally smack against the glass-like material.

Performances of Beyond Hexagons are always crafted improvisationally, tending to an emergent process of listening and responding. In these performances, I play sounds through the shard-speakers, place microphones above them, and then mix between the clean microphone signals and processed/spatialized signals. When possible, the shards sound alone in a room (without additional amplification) before I bring them in through the venue speakers, to create the sensation of moving between intimate and immersive spaces.

Beyond Hexagons is also the title of cassette/digital release put out by Infrequent Seams in August 2023. Each side of the tape contrasts the un-effected sounds of the shards, derived from a recording of the related installation Ode on Crushed Matrices, with the digital intensity of the first live Beyond Hexagons performance, given for Infrequent Seams Streamfest in June 2022.

Audiovisual Documentation


Beyond Hexagons, 2023 cassette/digital; released on Infrequent Seams as a part of their K7 Commissions Series on August 7, 2023


  1. Beyond Hexagons for Infrequent Seams Streamfest – June 17, 2022 at Scholes St. Studio, Brooklyn, NY. Video credit: James Ilgenfritz

  2. Beyond Hexagons at NIME Mexico City – June 3, 2023 at Centro de Cultura Digital, Ciudad de México, México. Video credit: Sofy Yuditskaya (iPhone recording by attendee; not professionally recorded)

Technical Documentation

Stage Diagram:

Stage plot/technical diagram submitted for NIME 2023 performance of Beyond Hexagons. While exact setup was not ultimately realized due to last minute location-changes and intermittent rain, this would be the ideal setup for a future performance of Beyond Hexagons.

Max for Live Devices used in Beyond Hexagons (all created by Anastasia Clarke):

Noise Bath Sound Party is a digital instrument that subjects two channels of filtered noise and four sine tones through a series of tremolo-like VCAs run at rates anywhere from 0.1–12 hz, providing endless options for rhythmic variation. I prefer to view it in Max patch mode rather than to fit it into the size of Max for Live device, so the Max for Live device is simply a button that opens Noise Bath Sound Party in a popup window, while still allowing it to be fully MIDI-mappable from within Live.

Click Delays is a digital instrument that uses the self-noise of an LFO-controlled bandpass filter sweep sent through multiple delay lines, chained in series, to create feedback that results in rhythmic clicking. The entire mechanism is reproduced in left and right channels to encourage use of polyrhythms. Click Delays also opens in a separate popup window via Max for Live, and is fully MIDI-mappable from within Live.

Here is Click Delays in patching mode, showing a bit of what is going on under the hood.

Trans-Sequential Robust Delay is an audio effect that includes four delay lines that can be individually transposed using a list of MIDI values, which can be edited on the fly. The effect also includes options for changing tempo divisions, cutoff and resonance on a variable low/high/bandpass filter, and an option to auto-modulate delay time using sample-and-hold. Its function is to turn steady drones of the intact singing bowls into melodic, tonal arpeggiations.

Env Flow lives somewhere between audio effect and instrument. It is an amplitude-reactive, crassly-out-of-tune pitch-following synthesizer. It is used in Beyond Hexagons to pick up the pitched and unpitched sounds being sent to the shard speakers by Noise Bath Sound Party and Click Delays.

Photographs of Shard-Speakers

Click through to view:

Additional Related Materials

Shard-Speakers: An Inquiry into the History and Origins of Quartz Crystal Singing Bowls, and their Musical Possibilities (2023 NIME Paper)

Crushed Matrices (related body of work using crystal singing bowls, shards of broken crystal singing bowls, and electronics)