The Metalization of a Dream (2019-2020)

Open form work for open instrumentation commissioned by Galvanize Ensemble. Premiered by Galvanize Ensemble and Fretwork at Newcastle Lit & Phil in February 2019 with funds from The RVW Trust, Arts Council of England, and PRS Foundation (8-30 minutes in duration).

Performances in 2020 include City University and several streamed events, namely nonclassical, NottNOISE New Music Marathon, and Lit & Phil Online. In November 2020, the work was the focus of a 1-hour radio broadcast on Resonance FM, that featured a pre-recorded performance of the work and interview. In January 2021, the work was programmed as part of SOUND Music Festival in Aberdeen (one of the leading new music festivals in the UK). Moreover, a live performance of the work will take at the leading experimental music venue Café OTO on 8 March 2022.

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The Cries of Columbia Road (2017)

A 9-minute acousmatic composition, premiered at Whitechapel Gallery as part of The Sound of Memory Symposium: Sound-track/Sound-scape.  Audio recording: https://soundcloud.com/duncan-macleod/columbia-road

This work forms part of an ongoing series of electroacoustic compositions that draw upon the urban anthropophonic soundscape of London, entitled The Cries 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, this series 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” (Saskia Sassen 2013). In 2020, I presented a paper on the project at Crafting Sonic Urbanism Conference, Theatrum Mundi/IRIS, Paris which was developed into a book chapter (see The Cries of London above). In terms of significance, this work contributes to an emergent field of composition, namely soundscape composition that is gaining traction both within the academy, and the wider public sphere. Look ahead, the series will be further developed and feature as part of Totally Thames Festival in London in 2023.

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From Surface to Surface (2014)

A 13-minute binaural acousmatic composition, commissioned by Tate Modern, London. Audio recording: https://soundcloud.com/duncan-macleod/sets/from-surface-to-surface

This work forms part of Tate’s Sonic Trails series, an initiative that explores a wider engagement with live arts where composers and sound artists are commissioned to respond to an artwork of their choosing from the gallery’s permanent collection. In this work, I respond to Susumu Koshimizu’s sculpture by the same title that is on display at Tate Modern, London. The resultant composition mirrors the sculpture with 14 miniatures each ranging between 30 seconds and a minute in duration with each miniature responding to a corresponding plank of the sculpture. To date, the sound work has attracted several thousand audience members and continues to be presented as part of the Gallery’s ongoing live art programme. In terms of wider significance, the work forms part of a burgeoning practice, namely sound and music performance in galleries. Moreover, the work contributes to an emergent field of practice, namely the creative application of spatial music through the use of binaural audio in which sound can be presented in a three-dimension space.

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Diesis (2011)

Written for double bass and live electronics. Commissioned by the London Sinfonietta, premiered by Enno Senft at Hall 1, Kings Place, London, October 2011 and featured on the album New Music Show, released in 2012 on London Sinfonietta Records/NMC (EAN: 5065000796099).

This work is an exploration of microtonal commas (a minute interval) of which a diesis, a diminished second, gives this piece its title. Historically when tuning a scale, rather than divide an octave into equal parts (as used today with equal temperament) early tuning systems would tune notes using a sequence of pure intervals, which are slightly different in size to the equal-tempered intervals we use today. These discreet differences in pitch would result in an undesirable and perceptually dissonant imperfect octave, the interval of this imperfection being a comma. Diesis is therefore a response to the dissonant qualities that made a comma undesirable: namely its complex timbre and pulsing beating tones.

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Lumen (2009)

Written for a cappella eight-part choir (SSAATTBB). Commissioned by the Handel House Museum Trust and premiered by the Pegasus Choir, Grosvenor Chapel, London, December 2009.

Written for eight-part chamber choir Lumen is a response to The People Walked in Darkness from Handel’s oratorio Messiah, the melody of which is deconstructed and elongated to form the backbone of the work, from which harmonic material is extrapolated. The oratorio’s central concept of darkness to light plays a key role in this work, reflected in the harmonic structure that opens with a cluster chord that gradually distils into a consonant hexachord in the closing section. The work sets four different translations of the same chapter and verse as used by Handel (Isaiah 9:2), which are juxtaposed against one another. 

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