adriana  sá
trans-disciplinary   music

Subwoofer with light sensorsSpeaker-Sculpture
A site-specific sound installation created together with John Klima, in the cloister of the Convento de S. Francisco, in Coimbra (4 July - 1 September 2019).
Several sound tracks made with field recordings are played back simultaneously through ten loudspeakers distributed through the cloister, forming a larger interactive composition. The speakers have been modified with light sensors, so that the volume of each sound source depends on the light capatured by the corresponding sensor. Their visual aspect has also been modified: they became functional sculptures. On one side of the cloister predominate the streets of Coimbra and the doors of the convent; their emerging musicality is accentuated with instrumental sounds, which are sometimes unrecognizable. In another place, a hand-full of escudo coins thrown to the floor of the church creates percussive moments. In yet another, the water in the cistern bellow the cloister is amplified with consistency, rocking the visitor. The soundscape never repeats: it varies depending on the hour of the day, the meteorological conditions, the material architecture, and the specific place where a person is at the moment.
Sound and + info
string practice
My current project with John Klima. After the site-specific performance String Practice #1 (see bellow), we decided to develop the work with portable instruments, and a new graphic score. John performs with a metal instrument, capturing magnetic resonances with pickups made from scratch. I perform with zither and AG#3 - audio-visual 3D software that processes sound and image based on pitch detection from the zither input. Outdoor performances with daylight dispense with visual projection, but in indoor performances, the image creates a dynamic stage scene. Its role is to produce a surplus of perceptual effects, and simultaneously allow for attention to focus on the relations between the sounds.
Performed at the Botanical Garden in Coimbra, at Silos in Caldas da Rainha, and The New Art Fest in Lisbon.


My on-going project with John Klima and Tó Trips. We have two records released by Shhpuma / Clean Feed, which are based on graphical scores. The first album (2013) stems from an apparently improbable encounter of three different musical styles. I play zither and electronics, John plays acoustic and electric bass, and Tó plays dobro. With the second album (2018), the creative question was how the music could maintain its idiosyncratic identity and simultaneously be something totally different. I play zither and the AG#3 software, John plays bass and overdrive, and Tó electric guitar. The visual projection of AG#3 also works like a stage scene.
Timespine performed in Lisbon (Chiado Museum, Culturgest, Maria Matos Theatre, Trem Azul, ZDB, POGO Theatre and Bairro Alto Theatre), Porto (Rivoli Theathre), Coimbra (Salão Brasil), Tomar (Festival Bons Sons), Caldas da Rainha (Silos) and Rio de Janeiro, Brasil (Festival Novas Frequências).
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Installation in a greenhouse

An installation in a greenhouse (Estufa Fria), created in collaboration with John Klima, comissioned by Lisboa Soa 2017. Its title is borrowed from a Zen poetry book. Our creative question was: How to intervene in the natural beauty of a cave with water? The space became reactive, like the body of an instrument. By producing shadow over light sensors, people activated floating metal bowls, which contained marbles. The orchestration emerged while listening to the relation between objects, space, water, and shadows. Slowly, with time for silence.

String Practice

A site-specific perfomance in a greenhouse, comissioned by Lisboa Soa 2017; a duo with John Klima, with a graphic score.
I played my custom zither and long amplified wires - the bodiless instrument. In addition I used the audio component from the AG#3 software, processing prerecorded sounds based on the input from the zither and the wires. John played a long steel wire, capturing its magnetic resonances with a scratch-built pickup microphone.
Here is a video.

A musical idea born at ScratchBuilt Studios, through the combination of pre-existing instruments and invented instruments. It explored microtonal sonorities, accentuated sparsely with floating tonal centers and percurssive punctuations. The work unfolded with a graphic score, which I refined over time. I played the zither and the bodiless instrument (amplified wires streched in space) combined with the sonic component from the AG#2 software. In addition I used the light percussion instrument (audio generator sound controlled by a light sensor attached to a stroboscope). John Klima played a long wire, capturing its magnetic resonances with a scratch-built pickup microphone. Tiago Sousa played piano and Diana Combo percussion. The light design explored dynamic shadows, of musicians and instruments.
The work was performed at O’Culto da Ajuda, Lisboa 2017 and Teatro Maria Matos, Lisboa 2018.
Listen to the complete recording. Or, see a video.


Recent version of my audio-visual 3D software, which operates based on a custom zither input. John Klima adapted the code from AG#2 to a 3D engine called Irlicht and the FMOD audio library. But the digital sound and image have now an urban feeling, which they never had before. I made a new 3D world and changed the digital sounds, creating slightly different versions for the Timespine project and the String Practice projects (see descriptions above).

Project series with the second version of my audio-visual instrument, which included the AG#2 software. All software versions were developed for the audio input of a zither with aged strings, a personal tuning system, and specific playing techniques. Since AG#2, the difference between the detected pitch from the zither and the closest tone/ half tone is applied to the processing of digital sound and image, as well as to the audio-visual mapping. The code was written by John Klima according my specifications. I also created the sound, the 3D world and the parameterisations. Performances were in Lisbon, Viseu and London.

Project series developed along with AG#1, the first version of the 3D software developed with John Klima. The software was developed to operate based on my custom zither input. Pitch detection caused pre-recorded sounds to be placed in a 3D-world, while shifting a virtual camera throughout its deserted landscape. I created the 3D world design as a moving painting; the image beamed over performer(s) and setup was like a driving picture plane.
Some performances were solo, and others with John. There was also a work gathering twelve musicians, and a duo with Fala Mariam.

emotional object in Geneve

An interactive installation created with John Klima, Sofia Oliveira and Jared Hawkey: a multi-user game, where up to four persons acted upon a physical mechano-sculpture and a musical composition, through a digital interface. Rotating like a child's spinning top, the "object", both physical and virtual, was divided in sections mapped onto 24 emotional states represented by colors and musical phrases. Players left weights over the emotions they passed through; as these corresponded to a physical location in the object, they affected its balance. The goal was to keep the object moving and in balance, while playing with an interactive soundscape. The game/ musical composition was designed so that the players could never really predict the outcome of their actions.
The work was shown at Version Beta Festival, Geneve, and ZDB, Lisbon.

An installation shown at Eyebeam (NY). It used the sounding light instrument (light sensors, i-cube and Lisa software), which translated light gradients into sound variations. Natural and artificial light as well as body shadow affected the sound behavior in real-time. Sound-source materials were collected on-site. Along the day, people experienced an orchestra of slow daylight changes; the site was the maestro. When the sun was gone, people could interact with the instrument so as to affect the soundscape.

An island of ocean in the middle of the city. An installation set outdoors in Lisbon, part of my Moment in Movement series. With the fade of the day, nautical codes were beamed over light sensors in water pipes; the light affected multiple water sounds, shaping the soundscape with twelve speakers placed up in the trees. There was also a performance in this habitat, with: Sei Miguel (pocket trompet), Manuel Mota  (guitar), David Maranha (violin & dobro),  Fala Mariam (trombone), Cesar Burago (percussion), Pedro Lourenço (light tuning) and myself (zither, modular synth and light percussion).

An installation within Yvette Poorter's This Neck Of The Woods, in Rotterdam. An unfolding exchange with a shed-sculpture intended to host artistic residency projects. It was part of my Moment in Movement series. The room I slept and lived in was transformed into a musical instrument, with the bodiless instrument, the sounding light instrument, press and rotation sensors, and light percussion; Yvette also projected disaster slides onto the light sensors, affecting the sound.

A performance-installation in Lisbon, part of my Moment in Movement series. I played the sounding light instrument with light projectors and physical body shadow; in combination I played the bodiless instrument, light percussion, modular synthesizer, press and turn sensors, and a custom zither. Guest artist LixoLuxo Poético played his instruments built with urban junk.

A site-specific performance-installation in a deactivated codfish factory, part of my Moment in Movement series. It was created with Guest artist LixoLuxo Poético. I used the sounding light instrument and the bodiless instrument. Hanging light-sensors played the ocean through my shadow. Other instruments were built with materials found on-site.

ARCHIVE 1997-2005  
Project-series with instruments that connected music, light, architecture and movement: the sounding light instrument (custom-made light sensors, i-cube and Lisa software), the bodiless instrument (amplified wires streched in space) and the light percussion instrument (audio generator sound controlled by a light sensor attached to a stroboscope). See documentary (Portuguese)

Works 2002 / 3:

                   site-specific installation & performances at ACAC, Japan

                   performances in Portugal, Spain and Servia

                   site-specific performance-installation in Barcarena, Portugal

                   performance at T-U-B-E, Germany

                   site-specific performance-installation in a textile mill, U.K.

                  performance at Nouvellum Festival, France

Project series that explored different ways of making the physical space sensitive and reactive. My previous Parallax series (see above) often incorporated works by other artists. The question now was how to collaborate without dominating.
See documentary (Portuguese)

Works 2003:

         PLAN OF THE GAME  
                   performance at Gulbenkian Foundation, Portugal

                   site-specific installation & performances in a chapel, Portugal

Project series that explored the versatility of the sounding light instrument and the bodiless instrument so as to connect music, light, physical space and movement.
See documentary (Portuguese)

Works 2004-2005:

                    performance-installation at Invisible Realities Festival, Portugal

                    performance-installation at ZDB, Portugal

                    performance-installation at Arteleku, Spain

                    performance-installation at ZDB, Portugal

                    site-specific performance-installation at O.R.T., NYC

This project grew from the wish of simplifying the instruments used in Parallax (see above). The architectural setup of the sounding light instrument and the calibration of light sensors always required a long period of time. In this new work, the light source affecting the sound came from a video beamer. The light captured by the sensors became easier to control once they were put in vertical pipes. Performances in 2005 were at Herz_Extend Festival (Portugal) and Atlantic Waves Festival (London).

This project series unfolded through a collaborative intermedia process. It explored the in-between territories of sound, body movement, visual arts and video. It unfolded throughout ten projects (2000-2002), with collective residencies and shows in Belgium, Germany, U.S and Portugal.

This work explored the confllct between a speech about art and the experience of an art. The works were performed in Portugal and the U.S. (1997-1999).