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Able Orchestra: Immersion

Able Orchestra: Immersion

Over the years of being the audio lead on Inspire Youth Arts’ flagship project, The Able Orchestra, I’ve been lucky enough to work on some amazing projects with some amazing people. The group have performed at the Proms with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, taken the stage with PeteBox and the Halle Orchestra to perform two pieces at an international orchestras conference, and developed work with Dyskinetic using the amazing MiMu gloves.

This last project, Immersion, still had something different about it. Equally fun, challenging and rewarding, with wonderful collaborators who brought their own flavour to the performance, but with additional layers of heritage, history and science, which combined to make a particularly special piece.

Sample

SAMPLE

Papplewick pumping station is a Victorian pumping station and reservoir in Nottinghamshire that still retains a large amount of its original structure and technology. The beautifully ornate building is full of steamers, counters and huge pumps, which stick 3 storeys out of the ground. They kindly opened their doors and steamed the pumps for us ahead of an open day so that we could record the wonderful sounds and explore the exquisite architecture and design. We also went down into the disused Victorian reservoir, which not only looks beautiful with hundreds of vaulted spaces constructed solely from brick, but it also sounds amazing – I have never heard a reverb like it! Needless to say, we recorded an impulse response so that we could affect any sound we want and place it down in the reservoir.

Compose

COMPOSE

Over 1 week in February, we went into Portland College in Nottinghamshire to work with students and staff to create a new piece of work. Setting up in the new creative arts space, we worked with Sinfonia Viva, Inspire Youth Arts and the Digit Music team to facilitate composition and sound exploration with the students. Jess Fisher, Digit’s learning coordinator, used to be a student here and is still a member of The Able Orchestra:

“I loved showing the participants how simple, easy and fun it can be to make their own chord progressions for the piece of music. It was amazing to be able to go from performing as a participant into actually leading the group and showing that progression. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to lead this part of the project. It not only proved how far I had come on my journey, but now being able to give back to others and show them that, if you work hard, it could be you one day.”

The idea behind the piece was to respond to the physical processes going on inside the pumps and the various states of matter that relate. Fire was used to heat water and create steam so that one section represented fast moving particles that gained more and more motion and pressure. The pumps, put into motion by the steam, were then used to pump water to the residents of nearby Nottingham so that another section represented the channels of water moving from place to place.

Not only was there a musical response to the pumping station, Bec Smith, from Urban Projections, worked with the students to create a visual response, which worked on an array of LEDs across the centre of the space with two sets of LEDs at each end where the performers were. The patterns of the LEDs aligned with the particle motions of the sections and there was a push and pull, which represented the huge pumps moving up and down at the centre of the pumping station.

Perform

PERFORM

Then it was time to perform… the fun bit! The space was set beautifully and Inspire Youth Arts had arranged for students from surrounding schools to come to visit, as well as a list of dignitaries and funders who wanted to see the wonderful work the group had carried out. This is always an exciting time for the students, and for us as the facilitators, to see the piece come together and the final parts of the puzzle slotting into place. There were lots of nerves, just as there should be, but the piece went perfectly – minus a slight technical hitch from a computer having its own ideas and taking us off piste for a few seconds!

The students and players did an incredible job and below is a short video so you can get the flavour… Or you can watch the full 15 minute performance here.

Remix

REMIX

The final stage of this project called for a complete remix of the piece to ensure that it worked in a much shorter format. Jess and I went back into Portland College and worked with students to re-record their parts and decide which were the elements most important to them. By bringing the piece down to around 3 minutes, we opened the door for more sound design and editing, which the students carried out over a few weeks of morning sessions.

This piece was then sent to Bec and her team to prepare for a live recording inside the Victorian reservoir. There was no audience in attendance due to the precarious nature of the space, however, the whole piece was captured and you can see it right here.

More To Come From The Able Orchestra

We love working with the Able Orchestra and particularly loved this project. You can see the behind the scenes making of it here.

Thanks to Inspire Youth Arts for putting together such a wonderful project, to the collaborators, Sinfonia Viva for their creative input and beautiful playing throughout the week, to Jess and Marshall for supporting, to the Able Orchestra participants for working so hard and creating something so interesting, and to Portland College for being such great hosts.

Roll on the next Able Orchestra project, coming soon!

For any Digit Creative Learning enquiries, contact learning@digitmusic.co.uk

Follow Digit Music on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

You can contact Inspire Culture at iya@inspireculture.org.uk

Over the years of being the audio lead on Inspire Youth Arts’ flagship project, The Able Orchestra, I’ve been lucky enough to work on some amazing projects with some amazing people. The group have performed at the Proms with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, taken the stage with PeteBox and the Halle Orchestra to perform two pieces at an international orchestras conference, and developed work with Dyskinetic using the amazing MiMu gloves.

This last project, Immersion, still had something different about it. Equally fun, challenging and rewarding, with wonderful collaborators who brought their own flavour to the performance, but with additional layers of heritage, history and science, which combined to make a particularly special piece.

SAMPLE

Sample

Papplewick pumping station is a Victorian pumping station and reservoir in Nottinghamshire that still retains a large amount of its original structure and technology. The beautifully ornate building is full of steamers, counters and huge pumps, which stick 3 storeys out of the ground. They kindly opened their doors and steamed the pumps for us ahead of an open day so that we could record the wonderful sounds and explore the exquisite architecture and design. We also went down into the disused Victorian reservoir, which not only looks beautiful with hundreds of vaulted spaces constructed solely from brick, but it also sounds amazing – I have never heard a reverb like it! Needless to say, we recorded an impulse response so that we could affect any sound we want and place it down in the reservoir.

COMPOSE

Compose

Over 1 week in February, we went into Portland College in Nottinghamshire to work with students and staff to create a new piece of work. Setting up in the new creative arts space, we worked with Sinfonia Viva, Inspire Youth Arts and the Digit Music team to facilitate composition and sound exploration with the students. Jess Fisher, Digit’s learning coordinator, used to be a student here and is still a member of The Able Orchestra:

“I loved showing the participants how simple, easy and fun it can be to make their own chord progressions for the piece of music. It was amazing to be able to go from performing as a participant into actually leading the group and showing that progression. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to lead this part of the project. It not only proved how far I had come on my journey, but now being able to give back to others and show them that, if you work hard, it could be you one day.”

The idea behind the piece was to respond to the physical processes going on inside the pumps and the various states of matter that relate. Fire was used to heat water and create steam so that one section represented fast moving particles that gained more and more motion and pressure. The pumps, put into motion by the steam, were then used to pump water to the residents of nearby Nottingham so that another section represented the channels of water moving from place to place.

Not only was there a musical response to the pumping station, Bec Smith, from Urban Projections, worked with the students to create a visual response, which worked on an array of LEDs across the centre of the space with two sets of LEDs at each end where the performers were. The patterns of the LEDs aligned with the particle motions of the sections and there was a push and pull, which represented the huge pumps moving up and down at the centre of the pumping station.

PERFORM

Perform

Then it was time to perform… the fun bit! The space was set beautifully and Inspire Youth Arts had arranged for students from surrounding schools to come to visit, as well as a list of dignitaries and funders who wanted to see the wonderful work the group had carried out. This is always an exciting time for the students, and for us as the facilitators, to see the piece come together and the final parts of the puzzle slotting into place. There were lots of nerves, just as there should be, but the piece went perfectly – minus a slight technical hitch from a computer having its own ideas and taking us off piste for a few seconds!

The students and players did an incredible job and here is a short video so you can get the flavour…

Or you can watch the full 15 minute performance here.

REMIX

Remix

The final stage of this project called for a complete remix of the piece to ensure that it worked in a much shorter format. Jess and I went back into Portland College and worked with students to re-record their parts and decide which were the elements most important to them. By bringing the piece down to around 3 minutes, we opened the door for more sound design and editing, which the students carried out over a few weeks of morning sessions.

This piece was then sent to Bec and her team to prepare for a live recording inside the Victorian reservoir. There was no audience in attendance due to the precarious nature of the space, however, the whole piece was captured and you can see it right here.

More To Come From The Able Orchestra

We love working with the Able Orchestra and particularly loved this project. You can see the behind the scenes making of it here.

Thanks to Inspire Youth Arts for putting together such a wonderful project, to the collaborators, Sinfonia Viva for their creative input and beautiful playing throughout the week, to Jess and Marshall for supporting, to the Able Orchestra participants for working so hard and creating something so interesting, and to Portland College for being such great hosts.

Roll on the next Able Orchestra project, coming soon!

Si x

For any Digit Creative Learning enquiries, contact learning@digitmusic.co.uk

Follow Digit Music on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

You can contact Inspire Culture at iya@inspireculture.org.uk

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