New composition features the music of northern chat
(4 May 2011)
The musical tones of dialects from the North East of England have been used to create a new composition based upon people's everyday speaking voices.
The piece entitled ‘Encounters in the Republic of Heaven' features voices from all over the North East of England, a region famous for its rich array of dialects and accents.
Composer, Trevor Wishart, whose work focuses on the human voice and uses computer technology to enhance and transform it, collected recordings from homes, schools and meeting-places across the North East, while in residence at the Department of Music, Durham University (2006-2009). He also developed his own software to make the piece possible.
‘Encounters' features extracts from recordings with all kinds of people, from Northumbrian fishermen in Beadnell, to teenagers in schools in County Durham and Northumberland.
Mr Wishart's aim was to create a sound piece which brings together everyday stories told by adults and children with the possibilities of sound-transformation offered by music technology.
Mr Wishart, Arts Council Composer Fellow in the Department of Music, Durham University, said: "The 8-channel ‘sound-surround' experience begins with the sound of the wind, formed from tens of thousands of human voices, and gradually unfolds the stories of fishermen, farmers and city-dwellers in the North East of England, accompanied by imaginary musical instruments derived directly from the speaking voices we hear all around us.
"As each story subsides, the listener encounters a sea of human voices organised in surprising ways, speech that waltzes and harmonises, and clouds of speech which circle around the audience, culminating with speech transforming into song."
The piece is in 4 sections, each of approximately 20 minutes. Each section contains 4 stereo sound-portraits of individuals, or of groups of children, together with 8-channel material using either a multitude of speaking voices, or more "instrumental" material derived from the voices.
He added: "I have written and developed my own software to extract the intrinsic melodies, rhythms and sonorities of the speaking voices of people here in the North East. I then use these (together with the recorded stories) to make my music.
"The final piece is played through multiple speakers so that the listener is enveloped in the rhythmic sounds of human speech."
‘Encounters' will receive its world premiere at the SAGE, Gateshead, on May 4th 2011 and Mr Wishart has been touring schools and rural venues to describe and demonstrate his work before taking the piece to venues in Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Mexico in the summer.