Live: Ummo Guru DRONEPONE by Aditya Mandayam

19.10 19:00


Ummo Guru live at EKKM. Photo: Madis Kurss.

Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM)
Põhja pst. 35
Free of charge

“If you want to hear a drum, a trumpet, a trombone, cornetts, a recorder, flutes, pommers, shawms, a dolcian, racketts, sordrums, krummornos, violins, lyras, etc., you can have all these and many more unusual and charming things in this artful creation; so that, when you have and hear this instrument, you think not but that you have all the other instruments one amongst the other.” – Michael Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum II (De Organographia), 1619

Dronepone is a live musical performance by Ummo Guru (Aditya Mandayam) debuting new compositions for the Buchla Music Easel and Cassette Tape.

Dronepone at its simplest is a drone and a beat. Dronepone (a.k.a dronpone or dronpon) is a voice and a rhythm. Dronepone is a snowclone to cornpone; dronepone is folksy and homespun. If Eliane Radigue made Pop, we’d call it dronepone. All of drum and bass is dronepone, but not all dronepone is D’n’B. Ethnotekno is dronepone. The Gamelan, the steelpan, the Hang drum are dronepone. Mridangam and tabla are dronepone. If we include the human voice as an instrument, konnakol is dronepone. And so are beatboxing, medieval chant, and the whistled languages of the world.

Much of early synthesis is dronpone. The first synthesiser, the Theremin, and the first drum machine, the Rhythmicon—a.k.a the Polyrhythmophone—are both dronpone. Ervin Wilson’s xenharmonic structures produce dronpone, and so do the many musical instruments of Harry Partch. John Chowning and FM speak to dronpone. West-Coast modulars are close to dronpone. Buchla’s bongos are dronpone. Euclidean rhythm is of dronpone. John Berndt’s notion of Relabi— “the music of the slipping pulse” —is dronpone.

Air-raid signals. Emergency sirens. Electric whine. The musics of trains and trams and cars and prams. Dronpon.

Your modem made dronpon yesterday. Your iPhone makes dronpon today.

The event will be followed by a Q&A with Aditya Mandayam. In English.


Ummo Guru is the musical moniker of the artist, writer, and filmmaker Aditya Mandayam. Ummo Guru combines modular synthesizers like “Arp, Buchla, Serge, Ciat-Lonbarde, and countless nameless inventions that used bananas” with Carnatic and Sufi vocals. Mandayam calls his music Modular Folk.

As a composer and musicologist Mandayam has focused on reviving classical Greek and Vedic Indian xenharmonic scales, having worked with the luthier Giuseppe Severini on creating an Enneatonic (9-tone) macrotonal Aeolian harp and a Sexagesimal (60-tone) microtonal Hurdy-Gurdy called the Polifonia.

As artistic director of the experimental festival JUJU and music label MUTO Mandayam has pioneered the 3D Cassette. Using 4-track tape machines and close readings of early surround sound innovators such as Michael Gerzon, JUJU and MUTO have released Quadraphonic and Ambisonic cassettes, reels, and tape loops with a number of artists, including Peter Blasser, Richard Brewster, Gerriet Sharma, FOQL, Humildad Sound Sistema, and Andrzej Szpindler. Mandayam has also led the development of BRUD’s new sound format, SZKA 4.4, featuring four speakers and four subwoofers.

A former resident of the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam, Mandayam has performed at museums, galleries, festivals, and underground venues worldwide, including Art in General, New York, CAC, Vilnius, MHKA, Antwerp, kim?, Riga, Schloss Solitude, National Museum of Bolivia, National Gallery, Zimbabwe, Baltic Triennial, Kunstverein Munich, FUTURA, Prague, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, and Empty Brain Resort, amongst others.

In recent years Mandayam’s practice has taken a turn towards the esoteric Hindu traditions of Tantra. The High Priest of the Temple of the White Cube, Ummo Guru’s performances are Yantras to divine Space-Time Mantra.

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This performance is part of the series of public events taking place across the three international group shows in the main programme of Tallinn Photomonth for which the curators of each exhibition were asked to suggest an event for one of the other venues of the biennial.

Aditya Mandayam’s participation in the biennial’s cross-exhibition public programme next to the exhibition When You Say We Belong To The Light We Belong To The Thunder (curated by Heidi Ballet) has been proposed by Post Brothers, an enthusiast, taxi driver, word processor, and curator often engaged in artist centred projects and collaborations, or occupying the secondary information surrounding cultural production. He is the curator of the Tallinn Photomonth exhibition Mercury on show at the Tallinn Art Hall until November 17.

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