June - July — Music
Born in Northern Ireland in 1980, Ronan Skillen began playing music at the age of 10 with classical French horn. At the age of 16 he was introduced to the didgeridoo, which was his first significant experience with improvised music and prompted many collaborations with other likeminded musicians. Over time Ronan developed a strong rhythmic style of playing which sparked a fascination with North African percussion and later the north Indian traditional style of tabla, where he has been a periodic student of Ustad Akram Khan’s since 2004.
Ronan has been exploring a fusion of tabla, percussion and didgeridoo by means of a hybrid percussion kit which he designed. This set-up demonstrates a rich textural variety and a unique versatility. He makes many of his instruments by hand, using natural objects such as seed pods, tree bark, cocoons, reeds and hide to create percussive sounds.
During this residency, Ronan plans to explore and expand his knowledge of “polyrhythmic precision”, odd timings and “graphic music” under the tutelage of Zurich based pianist/composer Nik Bärtsch, whose compositions are inspired by the sound of cities and Aikido.
Ronan explains: “Rhythm is essentially structured time. How we manage time is largely determined by our environment or society – whether we’re able to go about our day “rhythmically” or not, depends on that environment. This influences the creative process. With the right intention and practice, rhythm can become an empowering tool, one I hope to harness by learning about the artistic approach of Nik Bärtsch’s philosophy.”
Ronan has featured his sound in musical genres across the board, from classical, rock and folk to electro, jazz, world music and hip-hop and has performed widely across Africa and Europe.