The Sonic Circuits International Electronic Music Festival originated in Minnesota 12 years ago when the national office of the American Composers Forum solicited works using electronic technology in new or experimental ways, but it wasn't until 2001 that a National Endowment for the Arts grant allowed the Washington branch of the forum to support several concerts here and in Baltimore.

According to Jonathan Morris, who heads the local American Composers Forum, "the national program is gone now after it was unable to raise money to support it, but Sonic Circuits is still going strong here."

It will take place throughout October in various venues. (For information, visit Performances will include a concert Oct. 22 at the new GALA Theatre-Tivoli featuring the world premiere of "Efficiency," by local dancer Jane Jerardi, integrating video, choreography and music by British electronic music composer Robin Rimbaud, aka Scanner, along with a live performance by sound artist Stephen Vittellio of a piece done in collaboration with Scanner, and a sound installation by visual art curator Welmoed Laanstra, who will place sound booths outfitted as surround-sound portable toilets outside various gallery spaces Oct. 14 through Nov. 5. Contributing will be local artists Alberto Gaitan and Alex van Oss, Germany's Helmut Kopetsky (the latter two using "sounds of Washington buildings") and New Yorker Jennie C. Jones, with a sound art piece inspired by native son Duke Ellington.


Now in its seventh year, High Zero, which runs from Sept. 22 to 25, has become one of the largest festivals of improvised music in the United States. It brings together a wide variety of artists -- free jazz, electronic music, noise, contemporary composition and so on -- for all-new, improvised collaborations at the Theatre Project (45 W. Preston St., Baltimore; 410-752-8558). It's a concept modeled on British avant-gardist guitarist Derek Bailey's Company festivals, which began in the late '70s and gathered improvising musicians who had not played together, organizing them into ad-hoc ensembles of various sizes and then setting them loose to make music. For more information and a schedule of this year's High Zero participants (half from Baltimore, the other half "from afar"), visit


The third annual 804noise Fest, taking place Oct. 16 at Richmond's Art Works gallery (320 Hull St., Richmond; 804-291-1400), is an all-day event featuring mostly, but not exclusively, Virginia-based artists. (The 804noise collective of musicians, artists and enthusiasts takes its name from the city's area code.) This year's lineup features more than 20 artists and collaborations as well as visual art. On Oct. 15, Chop Suey Books (1317 W. Cary St.; 804-497-4705) will host workshops, including one on circuit bending, which involves deliberately short-circuiting and re-wiring noise-making devices to create unique electronic instruments. (Examples include cheap Casio keyboards, GameBoys and talking children's toys such as Speak & Spell.) For more information, visit

-- Richard Harrington