Sonic, sound and multimedia

Creative works for and about sound, including fixed media sound works and ‘soundscapes’.

  • A walk I do
    – combines instrumental performance with live audio and text processing. I asked Carla Rees to send me an informal description of a favourite walk, which I used as found material.
  • Paul’s Walk
    made in 2015, for instrument (or two instruments) and mac App (iPad or mac). The performer influences the way the visual and aural landscape emerges and recedes, and tells a story about a walk, a lake, and being in a place. Words are drawn from an informal text on a walk by Paul Roe.
  • Trying to translate
    composed in 1991 for piano, digital sound and live electronics (recently revised), this piece is about aspects of translation, and makes use of Gaelic psalm singing, speech from a documentary radio programme on translating from Gaelic to English, and what is lost.
  • Icarus
    In this piece for four voices and fixed sound, composed in 1993, the myth of Icarus is interwoven with brief extracts from Leonardo’s astounding writings on flight, and on the sun. Both could be said to represent a yearning for distant possibilities, spiritual or otherwise.
  • Bees and broom
    For a few years we lived on Pender Island, off the coast of British Columbia. Yellow broom, an invasive plant, was everywhere, regarded by many as an unwanted, destructive presence. But not by all …
  • B contained
    was commissioned for Paul Roe to perform at the Galway Arts Festival in 2000. I wrote this piece very much with Paul in mind, and his particular ability to explore the more experimental timbres contained within the clarinet.
  • Making Place
    , composed 2013, is for 1-2 instruments and electronics, and is also available as a fixed video realisation. It’s a poetic exploration of place, and place making, and makes use of live interactive processing of animation, text and audio.
  • London – three sound pieces
    For sound alone, 1991-1994. These three sound-based works are all about London, not the London of tourist brochures but the London that I lived in at the time, the early 1990s, and the London remembered by my mother, growing up during World War II. All three pieces make use of personal recordings, and form an aural ...
  • Squeaky Reel
    This very short piece uses only three unidentified sounds, provided by the CD label, to make a rather grungy, irreverent and perhaps slightly folk-like dance.
  • In the stream
    This was the first digital ‘tape’ piece I made, in 1990 – by means of Cmix software on a friendly but decaying Vax computer at Princeton University. Structurally, I was trying to translate Fibonnaci principles, an enthusiasm that I’d used in a previous piano piece about a British waterfall, High Force, to an electronic medium.
  • The Future
    Radiophonic miniature, 1995. This one-minute piece is a brief, evocative picture of children and their thoughts on what they want ‘in the future’ when they grow up.
  • Five-minute wonders
    Composed between 1997-2001, each of these short computer-processed soundscapes, midway between music and documentary (and sometimes with tunes), celebrates the ‘wonder’ of a particular time and place, and lasts exactly five minutes.
  • Insomnia
    – Insomnia. The inability to sleep, despite attempts at rest. Like an insomniac this piece is agitated and unable to settle. The instrumentalists inhabit a dark, oppressive world which is constantly active, fragmentary and bordering on nightmare.
  • Losing it
    – Losing it….losing it…close your eyes. Close your eyes! … Sleep… sleep – you’re losing it, losing it. Trying to smudge that white line of consciousness. Aching to fall… into oblivion. Trapped in limbo between sleep and the desire to sleep. Frozen beyond waking.
  • Bells and Gargoyles
    A digitally created soundscape, made from recordings collected late on a stormy night in the Derbyshire village of Hathersage. Walking alone, heart in mouth, the air seems full of spirits and outer reality becomes confused with inner imagination.
  • Hard Cash (and small dreams of change)
    – What would you do if you won a million? We’ve all played that game. Hard Cash (and small dreams of change) is an ironic elegy for the sound of hard cash, and a scherzo for our small dreams of change.
  • Window (for John Cage)
    winner of the 2012 New Media Writing Prize, is an online and/or app-based interactive sound essay about listening and everyday experience. Turn up the sound and listen.
  • Burwell (Local Materials)
    – Field recordings, 2008-9. For a couple of years we lived in Burwell, a large village in Cambridgeshire, England. It was then I started to think about local materials more generally and how much they infiltrate and continue to build a presence in the places we come to know as home.
  • Fuga Interna (begin)
    , composed in 2011, is the sixth piece in a series for piano, Fuga Interna, and the first to include a digital part, which also includes a text by myself about listening, learning to play the piano, age and memory.
  • Leonardo sketches
    The texts in these two very short movements, composed in 2000, are from some of the many notes and remarks that Leonardo da Vinci wrote in the margins and spaces of his Notebooks.
  • Trilling Wire
    Composed in 1994, Trilling Wire is virtuoso piece for clarinet with a fixed sound part. It is fast and furious, but does not require extended techniques. The title is taken from a line in T.S. Eliot’s poem, Four Quartets.
  • Islands of One
    , composed in 2007. For several years I lived on a small island off the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada. An experience of serious illness while there was the starting point for these ‘sonic fictions’, four short audio-texts about experience and place.
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