AN UNUSUAL orchestra that uses computers and Xbox game controllers to make music will be taking centre stage at the Bangor Music Festival next month.

The Swansea Laptop Orchestra are promising an “exciting and stimulating” evening at the festival which gets underway at the city’s Pontio centre on Friday, February 8.

According to artistic director, Dr Guto Pryderi Puw, a senior lecturer in music and Head of Composition at Bangor University, the two-day event will feature 21 premieres.

Among them will be new works by six Welsh sound artists written especially for the opening concert starring the Swansea Laptop Orchestra.

Dr Jenn Kirby, a lecturer in music composition and technology at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, was one of the founding members of the orchestra and performs with her colleague Simon Kilshaw at venues and festivals around Wales.

"What we do is different in that we make an instrument electronically and then learn to play it and how to perform using it," Jenn said.

“We borrow from classical instruments and then adapt the sound. For example, we know what sound we get if we pluck a violin or perhaps a guitar. We understand that concept but we can map and distort that on a laptop to give us a new and very different sound.

“We use a lot of vocals too but by distorting and altering the sound we make the voice a very different instrument in its own right.

“We can then use game controllers or other equipment to make sounds and perform the music. By giving the composers we have been working with a new instrument made from a an old Xbox golf game we can make different sounds by using the way the software measures the swing of the golf club.

"It sounds more complex than it is but it’s a new and very exciting way of making experimental music."

According to Guto Pryderi Puw the Swansea Laptop Orchestra’s concert will be one of the highlights of this year’s festival.

"Under the Codi Electronics project, Tŷ Cerdd has put out a Wales-wide call for scores with the idea that the six composers would work closely over an extended period of time with Dr Jenn Kirby and Simon Kilshaw of the Swansea Laptop Orchestra to bring their ideas to life," he said.

“What they have produced are new and stimulating pieces of music. I’m looking forward to hearing what they have produced and to see what different approaches and styles each composer has taken. It’s going to be an amazing evening that will get the festival underway.”

"It’s promises to be an amazing festival with so much going on that the whole family can enjoy."

For more information about the Bangor Music Festival, visit: