HeadSpace

HeadSpace Ensemble In 1999, Carnyx Co. received funding from the Diageo Foundation to commission composer and sonic inventor Rolf Gehlhaar to develop a new musical instrument which would enable Clarence Adoo - a top trumpeter, left paralysed from the neck down following a car accident in 1995 - to engage with fellow performers at the highest professional level. This highly sophisticated and powerful electronic musical instrument was entitled Head=Space. Controlled by subtle movements of the player’s head, coupled with small but delicate and precise air columns, Head=Space gave Clarence Adoo a medium, through which he might learn to express himself as a high quality musician once again.

In 2005, after much practice and technical development, Head=Space received its first public airing at the St Magnus Festival on Orkney. Festival Director, Ian Ritchie, had commissioned the Artistic Director of Carnyx & Co, John Kenny, to compose a piece for Head=Space and Kenny produced an ensemble piece encompassing Head=Space (Clarence Adoo), trumpets & Flügelhorn (Torbjorn Hultmark), trombone & carnyx (John Kenny) and a sound projectionist (Chris Wheeler).

Since 2006 this group of artists has gone on to develop new repertoire under the name of HeadSpace Ensemble. Projects have included concerts and recordings at the St Magnus Festival, Orkney, Sage Gateshead, City of London Festival, a BBC documentary and a tour to Portugal. The group boasts a repertoire of specially composed music including works by Nigel Osborne, Rolf Gehlhaar, John Kenny, Torbjorn Hultmark and Nigel Osborne. The fact that the Head=Space instrument (as developed by Rolf Gehlhaar) has been played by Clarence Adoo alongside more traditional instruments within the British Paraorchestra since 2011 and featured in the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Paralympics as well as at a recent TED-X presentation in Brussels, provides further evidence of this solid track record in development and delivery of all those involved. Based on these successes, the original intention had been to continue the further advancement of the Head=Space instrument. Over recent years, however, the use of the Head=Space instrument in professional concert environments has provided crucial insights into the limitations of the existing instrument and its underlying approach. Given the wealth of experience and expertise accumulated by those involved in Head=Space and given the emergence of some directly relevant technological and software advancements which occurred the past 3-4 years, a completely new and different approach to the challenge of developing an accessible technology-based instrument capable of high quality artistic music-making now seems much more appropriate and promising than ever. Consequently, Rolf and Vahakn Gehlhaar have developed an new instrument, Hi-Note, which will enable Clarence to perform with greater flexibility and immediacy, opening up a new range of expressive oportuities. Hi-Note will feature in HeadSpace performances at the Setubal Festival, Portugal, and Cumnock Tryst Festival, Scotland in 2016.