for mixed ensemble and pre-recorded tape
collages, as the title suggests, is a collection of textures and images, layered and patch-worked to produce a constantly evolving musical landscape. The performers play live, alongside the tape, layering on more textures. It was written for a group of nine-year-olds to perform, most of whom did not play a musical instrument.
The starting point for writing the piece came from a workshop, when I asked the group of children to collect small fragments of different materials. They came back with a wide variety of interesting things (foil, wool, buttons, feathers, sponge, glass-paper, seaweed). We began to turn these items into sound, thinking about the look and feel of the textures (smooth, delicate, flat, ridged, rough, dimpled). Some of the sounds were generated by using instruments, and some by body sounds (finger-popping, teeth-chattering, whispering) but many were made with ‘found objects’ like marbles which were rolled on the floor, or lentils and rice which were slowly dropped into a box. I recorded this process and this became the foundation for the tape. The collage is layered on top of a continuous track which I recorded at Basingstoke railway station on a journey I made down to Salisbury, which interested me, as it includes not just the obvious train squeaks and rumbles, but miscellaneous sounds such as train announcements, people talking, footsteps, whistles, and crisp packets being crinkled.
It was first performed by Year 5 pupils from Leaden Hall School, Salisbury, at LSO St. Lukes in 2005, as part of spnm's C4K Composing for Kids scheme.