BBC Music Walk

Hopkins, Tim (2012) BBC Music Walk. [Performance]

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Music Walk is a research project based on a multiplatform music and performance commission for the BBC, to be hosted by a prominent international music festival over the summer of 2012. The producers have requested an embargo on details until official launch in April, when this research summary will be revised. My role is Creative Director. As with other works since 2007, this professional activity runs concurrently with my part-time Research Fellowship at Sussex. In this case as others, it complements research in a number of ways.

The project itself entails 10 new short performance pieces (4 mins or less,) each a response by a different contemporary composer to specific locations, made available free to the public online. The music is designed to be heard on headphones, downloaded from the web, at home or at the locations themselves, where other creative material will be available by via QR codes pasted on street furniture. The online resources include content relating to the composers, and an upload context for musical contributions from the public to form extra compositions, via algorithms and authorial interventions. In addition to the continuously accessible web resources, there will be real-world ‘promenade performance’ cycle of all the works, culminating in a large cluster (2000 people) at a climactic location (to be announced in April.) Live presences – musical or visual - will be introduced for this event. Composers come from the contemporary classical / experimental music world, inc. prominent and less well-established figures from the UK, Asia, Japan, and the US. Creative direction involves devising the concept, selecting locations and composers, curating the work, devising the web presence and directing any staged content.

Research. This project reconfigures core concerns of my AHRC Fellowship programme, unforeseen at its outset, by conceiving particular digital media technologies at the centre of a real-world lyric theatre experience beyond an operatic stage. It sets up cycles of exchange between composer, location and audience, traversing inter-medial relationships (eg real world inspiration, physical composition and performance, online access, Mp3 download, real-world engagement, further online access at location, Mp3 upload of musical content, further real-world engagement and so on) as a dramaturgical principle, identifying audience members as mobile navigators, contributors to and animateurs of the creative canvas, as opposed to its spectators. This facilitates an imagining of a key area of public space as an idealised landscape, with arts, science and technology as mutually creative endeavours (e.g. the V and A, Geographical Society, Imperial College, The Royal College of Music, the RCA, encapsulated by a particular London landmark.) Music heard in the context of the locations is imagined as channeling and connecting different energies and oppositions - e.g. the unnoticed qualities of laconic space, vs the self-announcement of the officially cultural; beauty in the discarded, beauty in the found; the elements, ambient mechanical soundscapes; architectural presence, aesthetics, historic activity; sensations of social connection and disconnection. Composers are responding to this in a range of ways: orchestral instrumentation, radio-phonic adaptation of location sounds, electronic sound worlds, logarithmic interventions, indeterminate compositions.

Although a simple set of conditions to achieve – listening to work on location through headphones – the sensation for the audience is ambivalent / complex. For example, on one hand, it embodies a version of the behavioural ‘contemporary’ in its use of digital media – self-selective clustering for social/cultural engagement. On the other, it takes place in real space, where the common headphone experience is a sign of connection and separation. It alights on a grounded historic theme (buildings as bi-products of an historic idea of creativity) in the features of a particular location, but entails a degree of subversion of architectural rhetoric, by apparently valuing the usually-overlooked as much as the highly-visible.

Sussex students (eg those studying uses of Locative Media in MFM, and Music students) will be invited to participate in the realisation of the performance, and assist in its documentation.

Item Type: Performance
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Music
Subjects: M Music. Literature on music. Musical instruction and study > M Music
Depositing User: Chris Keene
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2012 15:22
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2015 11:13
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