Audio extract (30 secs) from CD Morphosis (pf - Matthew Schellhorn, perc - Sarah Mason, elec - Patrick Nunn)


Composer's Edition

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15-05-10 (WP) St Gregory's Centre for Music, Canterbury - Sounds New (Matthew Schellhorn (pf) with the Ossian Ensemble)

22-09-11 Forest School, Snaresbrook, London E17 (Ossian Ensemble)

25-10-14 Queen Mary University, London E1 (Ossian Ensemble)

Programme notes

Score: Isochronous

For piano, percussion and pulsars (2-channel CD or 4-channel electronics) [2010]

Duration: c.6 mins.

Commissioned by the Ossian Ensemble with funds provided by the Sounds New Festival.


The title comes from the Greek iso (equal) and chronos (time) and refers, in this context, to the regular pulses of electro-magnetic radiation, which are emitted from rotating neutron stars known as pulsars. This beam of radiation can be detected on earth (like the beam emitted from a lighthouse) with observable pulses ranging from 1.4 milliseconds to 8.5 seconds in duration. When translated into audio signals, these pulses produce a gamut of sounds ranging from regularly spaced clicks to audible tones.

Isochronous explores a sonic environment that is created from scientific recordings of these pulsars in a confluent dialogue with percussive and piano sounds; the live musicians act out a terrestrial ‘response’ as it were. Although the two elements of recordings and live material are intended to blend sonically, they are marked apart by their regular and irregular characteristics: each pulsar is fixed and regular in tone or tempi (extraterrestrial), whereas the percussion and piano material is imbued with a greater sense of irregularity and independence (terrestrial).

Isochronous was commissioned by Ossian Ensemble with funds provided by the Sounds New Festival. The premiere was given by the Ossian Ensemble with Matthew Schellhorn (piano), Sarah Mason (percussion) and Patrick Nunn (electronics) at St Gregory’s Centre for Music, Canterbury, as part of the Sounds New Festival on the 15th May 2010.

© Patrick Nunn 2010