Works by Date
Homonymous Places is an ongoing project as part of Mark's PhD work. It investigates the perceived similarities in place related sounds. For full information on the project click here.
As part of her PhD research, Bea Dunsmore is currently composing an electroacoustic suite which explores the grey area between what we percieve as identifyable and unidentifyable sounds. Bea is soon to be releasing a short preview of this work.
Sunglow Sound will soon be releasing Lines, their first full album. Find it on bandcamp soon.
Mither Kirk (Sound Design)
Mither Kirk is a new fifteen-minute opera by local composer, Joe Stollery, and librettist, Ruth Potts. It is centred around the sixteenth century Scottish witch trials. Sunglow Sound assisted Stollery in achieving his creative vision by developing the accompanying soundscapes and effects to be played from loud speakers during the performances.
Off the On Beat
Off the On Beat is a fifteen minute composition for three live coders. It was developed in collaboration with our associated artist, Matthew Harazim, and with support from Aberdeen's live coding collective, Shift-Enter. Off the On Beat contains a very challenging and entertaining final section where the three coders continually swap laptops and alter eachother's code. As many laptop-based performances recieve heavy criticism for their lack of visuals, Off the On Beat was recieved very well when the trio gave it its first performance at the Sounds Like THIS Festival at Leeds College of Music in March, 2016.
Sweeney Todd (Sound Design)
Sunglow Sound was asked by the University of Aberdeen's Opera Society to compose several soundscapes to be used in their performance of Sweeney Todd. Overall, aproximately an hour and a half of soundscapes were composed for various scenes such as a busy, eighteenth century marketplace, pie shop, and even an asylum. The performance was in March 2017.
mvmt_1 was composed for Aberdeen Performing Arts as part of the Stepping Out Project. This project was part of the Aberdeen Music Hall regeneration scheme. Bea, the compositional lead for this piece, had this to say about her vision for mvmt_1: "I like to think of this piece as being in sonata form, just like the first movement of a symphony would typically be. There's the exposition with the lady talking and the tuning orchestra, then the development as I take the sample of the strings tuning and use it to form chords and melodies. As the piece progresses it becomes more and more... I'm not sure how to describe it... experimental? unusual? And then it does a recapitulation with the material already established and ends much the same as how it started. I liked the idea of an orchestra practicing for a big event. They spend weeks and weeks getting ready for one huge performance which is the culmination of all their hard work. I felt as though this was kind of like the music hall, in a way, from the stories of the interviewees. There was a man talking about how there used to be nothing inside it and then it had a renovation and now it's getting another one that's very high-profile. It's almost as though the Music Hall has been preparing and practising for what it's about to become when it re-opens. I used a sample of an orchestra tuning to symbolise the last bit of preparation before the big show starts. When the piece really gets going, I use orchestral sounds to symbolise (in a very stereotypical way!) the 'older' music of people like Beethoven, Brahms, Verdi, etc. but then combine these with drum-like beats (the samples for which were recorded by Nick Turner in the Music Hall itself) to give it a more modern feel - as though we were traveling through time to more modern-style music. It then goes into some experimental material to symbolise another musical move away from the traditions of tonality, melody and harmony, in which there's a heavy reliance on technology. I've called it mvmt_1 because of its structure and because if I were to compose an electronic symphony on my laptop, that's how I would name the file for the first movement. It's kind of old meets new in that it's an old structure but used in a modern context, which I guess is the essence of the whole piece. By naming it movement 1 it also implies that there should be more movements to come and that the full composition isn't finished yet. Since I only intend to write the one piece of the jigsaw, so to speak, it's as though I'm leaving it for future generations of composers to write the next parts... It would make a kind of tapestry of compositions showing the musical development of young people in the city. A never-ending symphony..."
Vibrations and Resonance
Vibrations and Resonance is a six minute electroacoustic composition using very minimal material. It uses a low violin trill as its main sound object and gradually builds complex textures.
Described is a piece which uses a wide variety of sounds. The sounds in the piece range from easily identifiable and describable, to obscure and hard to describe. This progression happens linearly. Alongside this progression are a male and female voice as representation of people listening to the sounds and trying to describe them. As the piece continues they gradually find it harder and harder to describe the sounds, and their descriptions start to differ from each other. The aim of this piece was to identify and display the barrier between descriptive language and sound.
Hymn For the New Year and The Way to Bethlehem
Rev. Dr. J. Barrie Sheppherd commissioned Sunglow Sound to compose the music for settings of two of his hymns. We made SATB choir arrangements with piano accompaniment for each of them and they recieved their premiere in Phillidelphia, US, on December third, 2016.
A ten minute electroacoustic composition commissioned by the University of Swansea, Wales. The piece centres on the theme of immigration to the North East of Scotland and was composed using material from anonymous interviews taken in both English and other languages.
Quote/unQuote was born out of a collaboration between Sunglow Sound and our associate artist, Matthew Harazim. Harazim headed the project with Sunglow Sound and Shift-Enter providing support. The trio performed this piece at Aberdeen's Satrosphere Science Centre where it was met with enthusiasm from the audience.
Sprout was commissioned by and for the SonADA for their 2016 festival. It makes use of broken records and audio manipulation through Ableton to make really interesting looping melodies and beats. The piece gets its name from its ending, where Sir Alec Guinness is reciting T. S. Elliot's The Burial of the Dead which has the line: "That corpse you planted last year in your garden, has it begun to sprout?"
Trinity is a semi-improvised live video performance by Seattle-based artist, Peter Bill. When asked to perform the piece at the 2016 SonADA Festival, Bill approached Sunglow Sound to compose a soundtrack to be performed live alongside the video. Sunglow used Ableton and live coding environment, Tidal.
Unorthodox was a group collaboration from the members of Shift-Enter, which was headed by Mark. For many in the group this was their first taste of live coding and due to the nature of this method of sound production, many of the sounds used were just stumbled upon by the performers, which gave the piece its name of Unorthodox.
Hold Me, Move Me, Keep Me
Working with engineer, Graham Dunlop, Hold Me. Move Me. Keep Me. in an interactive audio-visual installation centering around the balance and stressed coexistence between the natural and unatual environments with a particular focus on Aberdeen. The installation is a "grotto" where participants are invited to come in and interact with various objects, which are suspended from above. These can inculde an egg box, sourced from a croft in Cove, Aberdeen, which will trigger a natural, unedited recording from the croft depending if the box is opened or closed. If the box is only partially opened, the recording will play quietly. Additionally, there is a piece of driftwood that was found on Aberdeen's main beach. Participants can rock the branch from side-to-side, triggering sounds of waves, but if the branch is swung too vigorously then the waves turn into thunder. These are just two examples of the objects within the grotto. Hold Me. Move Me. Keep Me. was first exhibited at The Anatomy Rooms, Aberdeen, in August 2016 and has received another recommissions for Aberdeen's Science Centre (October 2016). Technology The technology behind this installation is Arduino and its coding environment, a variety of sensors, and the software, Pure Data. Each suspended object has a sensor attached to it. These include tilt (digital), vibration (digital), photoresistors (analog), moisture (analog), and pressure (analog). Each is connected from its object to a breadboard and then into the arduino, which relays any information to the computer. Any digital sensors will send through one of two values, the standard of which are 0 and 1. The analog sensors can give a range of readings, typically 0 to 255. Using the Arduino coding environment, you can map these inputs to more usable values. For example, to distinguish between the analog sensors, the photoresitor values were between 0 and 60; the moisture was 61 and 120; and the pressure sensors were 121 to 180, and 181 to 240. The digital inputs were mapped similarly. Once the values have been established, these are then sent through to Pure Data, where the different values are used to affect the sounds. For example, the egg box uses the photoresistor and depending on the amount of light it recieves, it either plays the recording at no volume or anywhere for really, really quiet to loud. The driftwood had a tilt sensor. When the sensor tilted one way, it would send a 5 and when it tilted the other way it would send a 6. When Pure Data recieved a change in the number, it would trigger a sound file of a wave. If the frequency of number changes exceeded a certain threshold, the bass frequencies would be amplified, which created thuder-like sounds. Next to each object is a speaker and the sound connected with that specific object will only play out of the nearest speaker.
Working with engineer, Graham Dunlop, Collision Point is an interactive audio installation where participants are invited to "throw their voice". The main part of the installation is a gigantic custom built table, which slopes gently down into a centrepoint, where there is a hole where a ball can drop through and be returned through an ball return system. Initially, the participant will record their voice using a microphone and a custom made thouchscreen interface. They will then select a coloured ball - orange or yellow, which they will throw into the table. An Xbox Kinect tracks the ball as it moves around the table and spaticalises it in the surround sound system depending on its X-Y location. In addition to this, the sound will speed up and slow down, amongst other effects, depending on the speed of the ball. Collision Point works particularly well when there are 2 participants as it is also capable of detecting collions and near misses and reacts apropriately to each. Collision Point was first exhibited at The Anatomy Rooms, Aberdeen, in August 2016 and has since received 2 further recommissions for the Aberdeen Science Centre (October 2016) and Leeds' Sounds Like THIS Festival (March 2017).
Working with Simon James, Sunglow Sound produced an additional staton recording as part of the promotion for James's radio drama collaboration, Akiha Den Den. The recording followed the idea and atmosphere of the Shortwave Number Stations broadcasts, a method of anonymous communication used mostly by spies. There are still many of such stations accross the world today and The Conet Project website contains a lot of genuine recordings and information on the topic.
A Dissonance, An Entanglement, A Consonance
'A Dissonance' is the first composition in this electroacoustic suite. The impetus for these works came from taking inspiration from something that one would not normally take inspiration from. In this case, it was epilepsy, something that Bea is very familiar, having both grand and petit mal seizures. A Dissonance focuses on an element of a grand mal seizure a non-epileptic might not think about which is the confusion upon coming out of the seizure. Source-bonded sounds are heard that would not normally be heard together and the sections of the piece come together to give a very disjointed feel. 'An entanglement' focuses on an element of a petit mal seizure a non-epileptic might not think about which is the overwhelming feeling of nothingness during a seizure. The piece is very done-driven with very little in the way of climaxes. Overall, it is a very calm and unusual piece. 'A Consonance' focuses on reinforcing the idea that epilepsy, like most conditions and illnesses, can affect anybody, anywhere. The sounds of six different locations were overlaid in various combinations to create some unusual ‘settings’, such as the sounds of sheep on a farm against a piano in a concert hall, and more usual ‘settings’, such as the sounds of a crowd of people against a busy road.
Drink, Break, Hide
Drink is the first piece in the 3 piece suite. The suite as a whole is somewhat representative of some of the different perspectives on a case of substance abuse. The pieces range from the perspective of the person with the addiction, someone close to the person with the addiction, and lastly a perspective looking out over the impact on society and the way society reacts to and treats this behaviour.
Some Context is the resulting composition of a long and drawn out process in which the names of 2164 contemporary composers have been recorded, cut up into, firstly, the initial attack of the first syllable and, secondly, the remainder of the name. When the names are played back at a fast rate and with the first syllables accentuated, the names form a textural sound - a randomly undulating ocean of wave upon wave of names, syllables, vowel and consonant sounds, breaths, clicks, hums, pops, and more - due to the various unique voices used. After a short while, the piece invites you to alternate between hearing it as a texture of sounds or as a fast series of short sounds. You may try to listen out to catch a name in particular but it is almost impossible as there are many other names sounding at the same time; it is from this idea that the piece was originally conceived. There had also been discussions about the creative uses of boredom, as was (and is still being) explored by Dr. Suk-Jun Kim, and so, in keeping with this theme, we decided to make the process behind the realisation of this piece an extremely boring one. As we recorded, cut out, and split the syllables of every name on the fifty-one pages, the size of the list seemed to grow larger and larger - out of comprehension. Much like the piece itself, when cutting out the names the list seemed to change from 2164 individual names into blocks of 100 or so at a time - a process that was so automated, with us dissecting a recording of a name in a matter of seconds, neither listening to the individuality of the name, but both paying close attention to the sounds of the names as each were cut up. The names eventually lacked any personality, they just become sounds, many of which are similar to each other. Some Context received its world premier in Seoul, South Korea, in November 2015 and is due to form part of Sunglow Sound's upcoming album, Lines.
30 Years of Instant Neighbour
Instant Neighbour is a well established local charity, which assist Aberdeen’s poor and homeless community by providing free food donations and cheap second hand furniture. 2015 marks their 30th anniversary and, as such, a 30 minute documentary detailing their development was made. Sunglow Sound created the soundtrack and the documentary was premiered in June. To find out more about this amazing charity including ways that you and others can make a difference, please visit their website at www.instantneighbour.co.uk.
Sea of Dreams and The Space
The project, Sea of Dreams, is a collaboration with local poet, Andrew Stewart. Each composition involves the recording of Andrew’s poem, which describes a sound world - either real or unreal - by our Narrator, Dionne Dunsmore. The soundscape behind the Narrator is created only using samples from Dionne’s recording of the poem. The first piece in this electroacoustic ‘mini-suite’ is Sea of Dreams, which describes the sounds one would hear at the beach: waves, wind, seagulls, etc. This is obviously a very real landscape. The second and most recent piece, The Space, in contrast, describes an unreal landscape.
Voices was an electroacoustic composition commissioned by musician, Rebecca Kennedy, for her event promoting healthy body positivity. It was an unusual commission and, at first, we were unsure about how to effectively convey such a message with sound. We decided that creating a piece that reflected the anxiety one would feel if they were insecure about their body. The piece involves an overwhelming amount of ‘thoughts’ that begin as being very negative and angry and gradually progress to being more positive to reflect someone accepting their imperfections and feeling a sense of freedom.
Police Scotland Road Safety Video
Working with director and film-maker, Sarah Stroud, we composed the incidental music to a short 10 minute film about the dangers of joy riding. The film has been used in the training of new officers and has also been shown in schools throughout Scotland.
Melissa’s Song was written by Martin Gies as a goodbye present for a close friend. Sunglow Sound assisted in recording, writing accompanying instrumental parts, and filming the music video. Martin feels that the song is too sentimental for public veiwing and has kindly asked that we do not provide a link to the song.
Spinning was Bea’s first acousmatic composition. It is a short piece using the sounds of different object spinning. these included bike wheels, coins, and sellotape.
This is the first acousmatic composition by Mark Dunsmore. It is an exploration of the sounds available, both altered and unaltered, from an object. In this case the main object for the piece was a plastic cup from a nearby vending machine. The piece is titled "Half Full" due to the humourous nature and optimistic sound of the piece.
From Dusk..., ... Till Dawn
These pieces were specially composed for the processional and recessional music for a wedding.
‘Our Nature’ is a 4 movement, 35 minute Symphony composed in celebration of Aberdeen’s River Don. It was premiered on 23/03/13 at Dunbar Hall, Old Aberdeen. The piece calls for a slightly altered symphony orchestra with solo pianist, soprano, tenor and string quartet. The commission came from artist Irene Rogan who was the Artist in Residence for the River Don Project. As part of her residency, Irene held three outposts at separate locations along the course of the river; the first of which was based at the old paper mill cogs. These towering, derelict machines became the inspiration for the work. The piece opens at the dawn of the world - the solo flute introduces an ethereal melody, inspired by Indian ragas, which takes the listener to another world not unlike our own. From here, Mother Nature calls forth the beginnings of life from her blank canvas. Flora and fauna start to grow and evolve, working harmoniously with one another. The second movement introduces the kind of animals one would find along the River Don, such as dogs, who enjoy chasing birds; otters who enjoy frolicking; and herrons who, whilst graceful in flight, are not very graceful on the ground. Attention is then shifted to the water itself. We begin this section in the river’s upper course, with many sharp rocks and a higher elevation whilst the rain theme continuously plays on piano. Quickly we travel through the calmer middle course into the floodplains of the lower course and finally out into the sea where things become more unsettled and uncertain. The piece suddenly cuts to a later time in the world’s life with man’s introduction making the third movement. The tenor plays the role of Man looking at Earth’s potential. The future looks bright as Man and Mother Nature work together in a peaceful existence. Time shifts again and a mechanic pulse appears. Nature tries to sing over the top but the two not longer fit with each other. Gradually, the machinery begins to dwarf nature’s attempts until the only sounds left are those of Man’s industrialisation. The struggle begins. The piece transitions between moments of intense and almost psychotic power, and moments of sadness and grief. After some time, Man realises the damage he has done but it is all too late; Mother Nature has no option but to accept defeat and bows out gracefully. But Man cannot survive without Nature and he, too, fades into the darkness. The fourth movement comes out of that darkness representing Nature’s rebirth and inextinguishability. And with this the piece ends on a note of hopefulness for the new future of Mother Nature and all her new creations. “I was pleased and impressed by the melodic and lyrical quality of sections of [Our Nature]. I particularly liked the first section and the cello solo part.” - Dr. Innes Duncan, Torphichen.
Vichyssoise was a short film by Edinburgh-based film-maker, Rachael Wann. The film focuses on a woman's wish for revenge on those who have wronged her by inviting them for dinner and killing them. Whether the main character actually commited the murders or whether it was a fantacy is left to the viewer to decide. The soundtrack was scored for full orchestra and was composed in collaboration with Aberdeen-based composer, musician, and Sunglow Sound's associated artist, Ben Light.
Hester was a short film by Edinburgh-based film-maker, Laura Wadha. The film is about a troubled young girl and her relationship with her doll. The soundtrack was scored for full orchestra and was composed in collaboration with Aberdeen-based composer, musician, and Sunglow Sound's associated artist, Ben Light. The film went on to win various awards at the Edinburgh film festival and the actress who played Hester has also won several awards.
Meeting Patrick Banes
Meeting Patrick Banes was a short film by Aberdeen-based director, and SUnglow Sound associated artist, Martin Gies. The story focuses on the difficulties of keeping a relationship afloat when one person struggles with commitment. The soundtrack was scored for full orchestra with some scenes accompanied with solo piano or violin.
The Last Sunrise
The Last Sunrise was a minimalist piece for solo piano based on Fur Alina. It is composed in the same way but using different compositional restrictions.
1924 is a short piano composition which uses minimal material and a lot of repetition. It is a piece which both sounds fast, due to the speed of the notes, and slow, due to the slow progression through the piece and repetition. It is called 1924 as the overall effect of the speeds is somewhat like the differences in how we perceive time. Technologically, 1924 is a long time ago and seems highly archaic, but the time from then has moved by incredibly fast. I chose the year 1924 as a dedication to Dorothy Newton.
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