Composer-performer spanning live electronics, free improvisation, noise, electroacoustics, and Arabic musics.




Seth Ayyaz is a London based composer-performer spanning live electronics, free improvisation, noise, electroacoustics and Arabic musics: principally, nay (end-blown flute), ghaita (reed pipe), and hand percussion (darbuka and daf).

Ayyaz studied acousmatic music at City University London. Specialising in live electronics and machine-listening, Ayyaz builds custom software/hardware ecologies for specific performances. Drawing on his background in neurosciences, his work is concerned with (dis)embodied perceptions and how these resonate across psychological and social spaces. His focus is on listening – and investigating what a sonic body can do. At present his main interest is improvising with other listening machines, human or otherwise.

Ayyaz has presented his work internationally including at the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, Finland; Cafe Oto, London; Kunsthalle Luzern, Switzerland; Irtijal Festival, Beirut; Maerz Music in Berlin; and the Haus Für Elektronische Künste in Basel, Switzerland.

Recent group work includes the Usurp Chance Tour 2014 – Cage and Beyond, produced by Usurp Art Gallery in partnership with Sound and Music; and a collaboration with artist Lisa Skuret on a site specific performance installation, ‘A Call from the Library’, in which the score was a former public library.

In 2010, Ayyaz curated the MazaJ Festival of experimental Middle-Eastern music in London. The MazaJ Festival was co-produced by Zenith Foundation and Sound And Music, media partnered with The Wire magazine and took place at Café Oto in London. The festival included the Volatile Frequencies Symposium and Concert, produced with City University London and LCACE (London Centre for Arts and Cultural Exchange).

Ayyaz also writes on sound and has been published in The Wire, Organised Sound, and most recently in, On Listening (edited by Angus Carlyle and Cathy Lane) alongside contributors including Brandon LaBelle, Francisco López, David Toop, and Ultra-red.

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Past projects include work with live artist Franko B, Filastine, DJ Rupture, Badawi and the collaborative Automatic Writing Circle with composer Thomas Gardener. In 2007, alongside artists including Kode 9, hhyScumclash, and DJ Spooky, Ayyaz contributed the two-part piece The Ocean of Tears to Raz Mesinai’s collaborative project Unit of Resistance.

Ayyaz’s work offers counter-narratives to current metaphors of cultural exchange and hybridity, instead foregrounding issues of friction, displacement and translation. He has presented his work internationally and recently (2013) he premiered a new 8 channel electroacoustic work, The Remainder, at Maerz Music in Berlin. In 2010, he performed a live diffusion of the bird ghost at the zaouia at the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology in Finland. The piece is a composed machine for listening that uses fragmented recordings made in Islamic religious rituals. It exploits and reconfigures the sonic detritus, the sounds designated as non-music, in a polemical and immersive multi-channel work. Makharej (2009) (meaning ‘exitings’ or ‘articulations’) is a live electronics and vocal exploration of the sonic latencies within the dis/embodiment of the Arabic alphabet developed in collaboration with the Egyptian actress Amira Ghazalla. Ayyaz’s work also includes Those That Fly (2003) concerned with the emotional and mental spaces of fear and confinement, imposed by the jamming of electronic communications during the aerial bombardment of Baghdad.

Past musical mentors also include Katharine Norman, Denis Smalley, Laurie Radford, Simon Emmerson, (all electroacoustic music / live electronics) Mary Matthews (clarinet) Eiso Sultan (nay – egyptian) Muhammad Ali (arabic music theory) Abdul Halim El Amini (ghaita) Louai Al Henawi (nay – syrian, darbuka/daf) Fariborz Kiannejad (daf – persian).