Nina Whiteman (Composer)

Research output: Non-textual formComposition


For voice and multimedia.

The Cybird Trilogy
I. Fuming (voice and multimedia, 20 minutes, 2022)
II. cybird cybird (piano and multimedia, 12 minutes, 2022)
III. Incandescent (trio and multimedia, 15 minutes [in progress] 2022)
Fuming grew from my feelings about crossing a busy ‘arterial’ city road to reach my local park every day. I recorded this soundwalk dozens of times, capturing the impact of the traffic on the acoustic environment, as well as the sounds of birds jostling to live alongside this anthropogenic noise. This ‘data’ was then fed to the Sample RNN computer by Dr Christopher Melen at the RNCM, who sent me a range of results. The machine had learned a variety of sonic features of my daily walk. Unsurprisingly, though, it couldn’t make qualitative judgements between ‘bird’ and ‘car’, and some interesting sonic hybrids emerged. These, along with ‘uncanny’ machine-learned environments form the basis for the fixed media electroacoustic audio in Fuming and cybird cybird.

Research tells us that birds find it harder to learn their songs against a backdrop of traffic noise, and that their songs tend to occupy a narrower and higher bandwidth as a result of these stresses (e.g. Drooling and Popper, 2007 and Moseley et al, 2019). I began to imagine birds as hybrids of technology, flesh, feather, and imposing chaotic environment. The Birds Aren’t Real conspiracy claims (satirically) that all birds have been replaced by robot drones. I began to wonder what it would be like if they had.
The Cybird Trilogy of multimedia works with live performers has grown from this engagement with machine learning, artificial intelligence and the natural world, and charts the ‘adventures’ of a cybird character that is inhabited and portrayed differently in each work. Its concerns are ecological, musical, and technological.
Original languageEnglish
Size20 minutes
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • birdsong
  • multimedia
  • machine learning
  • AI music

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