Bee-sharp Honeybee is a brand new music-art-science-environmental project currently in development. A journey through the secret life of bees, it will feature a live string orchestra, synchronised with animated film, and a live hive of honeybees. Inspired by, and directly derived from extensive research of rhythm, pitch, and waggle dance patterns, Bee-Sharp Honeybee magnifies the subtle intricacies of the beehive.. Project by Rae Howell. Film by Deacon Warner. Animation by Jilli Rose. Bees by Mother Nature.
SO, it’s full-steam ahead behind the scenes! Nearly 3 years since the idea sprouted, Bee-Sharp Honeybee is my contribution to help spread the word about bee culture, educate the public about the importance of bees to human survival, and inspire people to think local by planting pollinator friendly plants. Let’s take the plunge to keep backyards pesticide free, and become advocates for bees at a local level.. Afterall, small steps can lead to powerful changes. Better bee-lieve it!
It's an ambitious project, and still quite some work ahead, so please consider Bee-ing A Contributor to the project. It’s an independent creation, so we're crowdfunding to make this project come to life. We need your help!! Your contribution will go directly towards the animations and music development, and you’ll receive the music sketches, the documentary film, tickets and/or a plethora of other incentives.. thanks for supporting the project!!
Bee-Sharp has hit the headlines a number of times.. in Minnesota, on ClassicalMPR and Growler Mag, and also in Australia, in The Courier.
The Film has been screened at the following festivals:
Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival April 2018, MN
Duluth Superior Film Festival June 2018, MN
Square Lake Film & Music Festival (with post-film Q&A) August 2018, MN
Portland EcoFilm Festival (with post-film Q&A), September 2018, OR
Environmental Film Festival Australia October 2018, Australia
And next up is the Colorado Environmental FIlm Festival in February 2019!
Working in collaboration with hobby beekeepers, scientists and researchers from the University of Minnesota (UMN) Bee Research Lab, musicians, animators and a filmmaker, Bee-Sharp Honeybee began with an immersion in field recordings. Collating technical data, and analysing technical & musical (frequency & rhythm) details of the bee buzz, I created spectrograms (visual colour maps of frequency details) and frequency line graphs, and began to explore ways of creating music through the visuals of the frequencies.
My research observations & analysis grew into musical starting points, which I workshopped with the Laurels String Quartet. We experimented with tone, texture, phrasing, rhythmic elements and pitch, and from rehearsal recordings I developed these ideas further, and started designing a graphic notation system that best represented the concept and process of Bee-Sharp Honeybee, based on the way a bee-hive works, and so that every musician reads from the same score. These initial ‘Miniatures’ for string quartet are hot off the press, as a 21 minute EP (audio example below!) for just a tenner!!!
With the help of a small team, alongside this we created a series of miniature claymation stop motion animation clips, to experiment with the bee-buzz as a moving image. This process included the combination of 3D claymation bees and flowers animated in stop motion, 2D hand-illustrated backdrops, and after-effects. Thanks to the Laurels String Quartet for playing the sound of the bee-buzz in the clips!
The nerdy part: The bee buzz tone (wing beat), can usually sustain approximately 250 beats per second (250Hz~ fairly close to middle C, or B#, hence the title). This frequency / wing beat intensity, changes with behavioural patterns (maximising pollen release, threatening situations etc), environmental/weather conditions and body/wing size- I’ve barely touched the surface of these buzz variations, so I look forward to digging deeper as the project develops.. (in bee-tween bee stings that is).
We performed the initial string quartet miniatures live at The Pollinator Party, on Thursday July 27, 2017, as well as a house-concert performance in Minneapolis the following evening. Stay tuned for a live-recorded video of this performance very soon..
Bee-Sharp Honeybee will culminate in 2019, in a large-scale full length string orchestra work with a live hive of honeybees, and animated visuals developed from hand-illustrated graphic scores of the music, based on the way a bee-hive functions.
We are recipients of the Eric Stokes Award for 2018, and huge thanks goes to following: The Finzi Trust, APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund, The UMN Bee Research Lab & Bee Squad, Jared Miller, Deacon & Jenny Warner, Kurt Weimer, Celia and Ron Wirth, Film North, Emily Downes, Marcie LaCerte, Sam Ballis, Fiona Toth-Gillies, MN Hobby Beekeepers Association, Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, and many more yet to come on the next stage..
With thanks to:
Art Music Fund
Bee-Sharp Honeybee Sketches
Private link with password to view the (live) house concert
Private link with password to view the entire Bee-Sharp honeybee documentary film by Deacon Warner