Hear this space set upHear Th↓s Space commissioned me to respond to the German Expressionist art collection at New Walk Museum by creating a new soundtrack. The group are a collection of composers and curators who put on site-sensitive events. They also work collaboratively with other arts practitioners and musicians to facilitate multi-speaker sound systems as part of external events. I’ve been involved in the project ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ (Total work of art) since January and have attended several sessions to learn more about the German Expressionist collection, along with workshops open to the public to help gather recordings from inside the gallery and basement. To make a soundtrack in response to a collection of artworks is no easy task, especially with such a diverse range of creative movements from the 1920s and one that rejects realism and expresses strong emotions of anxiety and fear. I’ve taken inspiration from the collection at the museum, as well as German Expressionist films and composers, particularly the music of composer Arnold Schoenberg, who avoided traditional forms of beauty and crossed the barrier of tonality in his music, using rapidly changing textures, dynamics and moods. It was these ideas of dissonance that I’ve experimented with in this new soundtrack ‘Unheard Voices’, which I’ve produced in collaboration with vocalist Brona Martin who features on the track and performed live at the concert at New Walk Museum. The sounds were recorded on-site at the museum in a variety of rooms, spaces, galleries and the basement, including Lucy and Brona rehearse_edited-1listening through air vents to the café below, comparing the different tones of each room, enhancing inaudible sounds, the sound of archival material and experimenting with giving everyday objects and surfaces a ‘voice’. Many sound recordings were gathered and those selected for the final soundtrack were grouped into chapters and then woven together, to form a narrative with a start, middle and end, using Brona’s voice as a storyteller to complete the composition. Her voice was used as an instrument to respond to, mimic and match the pitch and tone of sounds, which have been abstracted by stretching, reversing, repeating and overlapping to create a haunting quality with changing moods and high contrasting volumes and crescendos. The recordings captured by composers and participants were created as individual compositions and shared as part of a multi- loudspeaker concert on Friday 20 March at New Walk Museum in Leicester. Listen to Unheard Voices, a  collaboration with Brona Martin below:

Lucy Stevens’ artistic practice examines the acoustic ecology of the natural environment, using field recording, digital illustration, performance and printmaking as a tool to visualise sound produced by wildlife, weather and other natural phenomena.

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