Shackle is Anne La Berge on flute and electronics and Robert van Heumen on laptop-instrument. Their aim is to explicitly and subtly exploit shackling in both concept and material.

The Shackle System

by Robert on January 15, 2012

The Shackle System is an electro-acoustic composition system for guided improvisation. Its development started in 2007 and it is continuously being updated, feeding back from Shackle‘s concerts and Converging Objects workshops.

The system is a digital cueing system with 20 different musical sections (‘parts’). These sections are proposed to the performers in a semi-random order. The length of each musical section is also partly randomized. Each new proposal can be cancelled during its countdown phase, and new proposals can be requested by players at any time. This can be done by either hitting a footswitch or the computer’s spacebar. The documentation of the version as of January 1, 2012 can be found here.

This is the first post of a blog that will document the Shackle Affair project. Shackle Affair is Shackle‘s extension into working with guestplayers, extending Shackle into trio constellations. Guests can be musicians, but also visual artists or other performers. At the same time Shackle Affair is also about further developing the Shackle System to use in Shackle’s concerts and in their Converging Objects workshops.


As of January 2013 we have a list of parts that is much more descriptive than it used to be, so I’ll list it here:
ANCHOR: grounded drones
BOLT: hectic fast changes
BOW: sustained and airy
CHAIN: solo and accompaniment
CHOICE: voice
CLIP: broken beats
CUFF: circular breath long tones
EYE: sines
FORGE: clicks & pops
IMAGINE: pianissimo
LIMIT: hot pink noise
LOOP: loops
PIN: choppy
RIG: D minor David Lynch
SCREW: glissandi
SHACKLE: free improv
SNAP: short statements
THIMBLE: fast and dense
TORQUE: sustained spit
TWIST: unpredictable silences
ZIPPER: melody