Liberty 21 – Application Portfolio

To support my Liberty 21 application, I have compiled a selection of works that best demonstrates my practice. These include the soundscape composition The Cries of Columbia Road and two compositions that combine soundscape recordings with musical elements, namely The Metalization of a Dream & The New Atlantis. Further details on each work, along with audio extracts, are provided below.  

The Metalization of a Dream

The Metalization of a Dream is an open form sound-work responding to the dada and surrealist-inspired collages of Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005). A pioneer of pop art, Paolozzi’s practice drew inspiration from artists that utilise similar collage and cut-up techniques such as Charles Ives and William S. Burroughs. As such, these relationships are explored within this work through John Cage’s concept of the coexistence of dissimilars, where the notion of harmoniously blended elements is eschewed in favour of collage-like juxtapositions ‘that fuse in the ear of the listener’. Like Paolozzi’s collages, this work incorporates ‘found objects’ in this case John Taverner’s In Nomine and the writings of Gertrude Stein that are reimagined, juxtaposed and intertwined with composed and indeterminate materials alongside soundscape recordings to form an equivocal sound world.

This work was commissioned by Galvanize Ensemble and premiered by Galvanize Ensemble at Newcastle Lit & Phil in February 2019 with funds from The RVW Trust, Arts Council of England, and PRS Foundation. A three-minute excerpt of the work is provided below. An extended 20-minute mix is available to listen at: https://soundcloud.com/duncan-macleod/metalization-of-a-dream/s-TjHTgcf5cXl


The New Atlantis

Commissioned by Handel House Museum, this work is a response to an extract from Francis Bacon’s celebrated utopian novel of the same name published in 1623 where he describes the Bensalem ‘sound houses’, which bears a startling resemblance to how we produce, realise and listen to music today. The work incorporates a sonic landscape with samples ranging from gibbon calls to bullfrogs captured by the composer at London Zoo and The Devil’s Hopyard State Park, Connecticut. This work was produced with thanks to ZSL London Zoo and iPark Artists Enclave, Connecticut.  


The Cries of Columbia Road 

The Cries of London is an ongoing series of electroacoustic compositions and sound works that draw upon the urban anthropophonic soundscape of London. Taking inspiration from the seventeenth-century works of the same title by Thomas Weelkes, and Orlando Gibbons, this series centres on the human voice within the city, capturing vocalisations drawn from London’s street-markets. At its core, The Cries of London is a response to the presence of the voice within the city where changes in commerce, alongside the forces of inequality and privatisation of public spaces, threaten to “silence the speech of the city.

The first work in my Cries of London series is The Cries of Columbia Road (2017) which draws upon the soundscape of the Columbia Road Flower Market located in Bethnal Green, East London. Established in the mid-nineteenth century, the market initially started as a Saturday market, and as the local Jewish population grew a Sunday market was established as well. Over time the Saturday market lapsed whilst the Sunday Flower market flourished, selling plants and flowers grown by local residents alongside leftover stock from Covent Garden Market. The market today consists of 50 stalls, many of which have been passed down through generations of the same families.

This work was commission by the School of Sound and premiered at Whitechapel Gallery, April 2017.