Joyce To

Research Assistant 2020-21


Joyce To is an Australian percussionist, curator and improviser whose creative practices explore sounds of found objects alongside traditional instruments in contemporary and experimental settings. Her music career spans across the globe, having performed throughout Australia and in Japan, America and Canada. She is passionate about performing new works and supporting emerging creatives. Joyce’s musical endeavours primarily focus and reflect on contemporary environmental and social discourse. In her most recent project, Fukushima – In Search of New Light, Joyce engaged in discussion panels and performances across Fukushima, Japan with poet Wago Ryoichi and eurythmist Jan Baker-Finch. The trio captured audiences at the Iwaki Art Museum, Iitate Wolf Shrine and various community locations. The project drew on reaching new perspectives with the local community in the cross of music, politics and the environment. Joyce holds a Bachelor of Music in Performance from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, having majored in percussion. She is currently completing a Masters in Performance at the University of Toronto, under the direction of Dr. Aiyun Huang.

Group Projects


For Mari’s MUGIC workshop, Joyce commissioned Alternative Future Potato Manifesto  by Yvette Agapow. This piece uses a potato as a sound source and various motions associated with preparing the vegetable as motion captured by MUGIC to control sound wave generators and sample playback.


Click here for more information on TaPIR Lab’s MUGIC workshop with Mari Kimura 


These four lab members (Tyler Cunningham, Timothy Roth, Joyce To, and Jasmine Tsui) were living together at the time of the workshop, so they opted to work as a group. They added a second breadboard to one Arduino Uno, making for a total of eight buttons. The buttons on one breadboard controlled pitches that blinked on and off at regular intervals, and the buttons on the second breadboard controlled the speed of the pitches. They built a second, similar instrument and performed with one person on each breadboard. The quartet performed a three-part étude featuring different styles. The first part featured a shifting melody-accompaniment relationship between instrument pairs; the second part generated musical ideas using time signature 7/8; the third part explored the instrument’s timbral extremes.

compound. oblique. transverse.

compound.transverse.oblique. explores concepts of fragility and fracture through simple electronic instruments built with Arduino microcontrollers and percussion instruments.

The Arduino instrument’s exposed circuitry presents a vulnerable and fragile aesthetic that became the central focus of the composition.

Throughout the work frail sounds dissolve as delicate textures breakdown and snap under pressure, creating an abstract composition that is intense and unpredictable.

compound. uses simple speaker electronic instruments that are extremely precarious both in their playability and its sound. Two percussionists coerce cracks, whispers, and buzzy screeches by scraping amplified coins across Almglocken while one percussionist plays a large woodblock with a vibra bullet and another rips large pieces of paper.

In oblique. a single timpano is used as a resonator for the Arduino electronic instrument speaker and the performer’s voices. Multiple percussionists perform overtone singing into the drumhead and manipulate its tension to create a delicate polyphony between humans and machine.

transverse. is characterized by electronic and acoustic sounds that are melted down and synthesized to create a bright, sharp timbre. Pitches begin in unison and gradually shift by microtones to illustrate harmonic cracks and fractures.