We had a wonderful first concert at the Old Barn, Kelston Roundhill on July 6th 2019. Here are some photos, taken by Miguel Angel Aranda:
After the concert, an interesting discussion ensued about the fate of the recordings of the performances. Normally, musicians and composers and sound engineers would be keen to have these issued to a wider public. However, we realised that to do so on this occasion would contradict the aims of Aural Diversity, because people would be listening via the usual standardised systems (most likely mobile device loudspeakers or earphones). So, the message for anyone who wishes to experience Aural Diversity music is: you must come to the concerts!
The performances were relaxed events, designed to suit a range of listening types, from profoundly deaf through to mild hearing loss, presbycusis, hyperacusis, and more. Many people chose to listen outdoors, or through streaming heapdhones. People moved around freely during the concert, finding the best listening situations. And several were keen to try out the vibrating floor, which produced some amazing results including one person who said they had heard music in their cochlea for the first time ever!
The Old Barn was a perfect venue for the concert: off-grid and "alternative". We had silent food and straw bale seating outside, as well as a swing and some beautiful views. Fortunately, the weather was very fine.
The programme was as follows:
Arbometallurgism (c. 6 mins) by Anya Ustaszewski
I am autistic with (associated?) sensory processing difficulties, especially with regard to my hearing. I have hyperacusis with a particular sensitivity to higher pitches. I also have a touch of misophonia.
Instrumentation: 'found'/everyday objects, probably small metallic items.
Description: a flowing piece consisting of metallic sounds, paper/card, stone/brick sounds, with a percussive section in the middle. Objects are played over a pre-recorded track. Percussive, in fast section, quieter in slow parts. Slow tempo - then fast tempo - then back to slow tempo.
Listening suggestions: unmediated in all spaces, streamed to headphones and hearing aids.
DiversiJazz (c. 8 mins) by Ruth Mallalieu
I have been profoundly deaf since birth. I have bilateral cochlear implants (I got one aged 13 and one aged 23).
Instrumentation: clarinet (Ruth) and piano (Jonathan).
Description: a set of short, well-known jazz melodies which are transposed so that each may be played in two registers - low and high (but not extremely high). Jonathan plays a pared-down accompaniment i.e. something that's not too 'busy' for the ear. Ruth improvises a little in both registers. Lyrics are provided so that listeners can follow the melody. The pieces are contrasted emotionally: a love song, a sad song, an upbeat song.
Listening suggestions: unmediated in all spaces.
"Where two rivers meet, the water is never calm". (c. 8 mins) by Andrew Hugill
I have severe hearing loss in right ear and mild loss in left ear, tinnitus and diplacusis, due to Meniere's disease diagnosed in 2009. Full story HERE
Instrumentation: digital keyboard
Description: very quiet, minimal, audio-visual composition for a specially built digital instrument which accurately reproduces Andrew's hearing. In diplacusis, two notes at different pitches are heard when a single note is played. The title is an old Ugandan proverb.
Listening suggestions: unmediated in main space, streamed to headphones, watching video score, vibrating floor.
The Cornish Riviera and The Cornish Mines (5 mins) sung by Matthew Spring
Instrumentation: solo voice with banjo (Riviera) and guitar (Mines).
Description: two folksongs that are traditional in spirit but composed in a 1970s folk revival style.
Listening suggestions: co-located in main space, following signed interpretations or data projections, break-out spaces, streamed to hearing aids or headphones.
Map Fragments (10 mins) by Simon Allen
A slow change in my hearing up until 1993(?) has brought 50% loss from the top down in terms of area on the audiogram; accompanied by hyperacusis, tinnitus and two hearing aids. Frequencies above 2.5kHz start to register as clusters of white noise and rapidly disappear above that.
Instrumentation: Free instrumentation. Each player to use either their own resource or equipment provided.
Description: A montage of music and signed text. Generally quiet. Slow
Listening suggestions: co-located in main space, following signed interpretations.
Interval (10 mins)
sanitary tones: ayre #3 (c. 10 mins) by John Levack Drever
These days I have a continuous high frequency tinnitus in my right ear accompanied by some hearing loss, and increasing levels of intolerance to high sound levels. Just to add, as well as through my research, being a dad of two kids, I became acutely aware of the impact of everyday sound on sensitive ears.
Instrumentation: vocal sounds.
Description: hand-dryer recordings voiced and transformed. Performers are spaced around the performance space. A pre-recorded track is mixed with the live voices. Medium loudness to quiet. No sudden bursts. The performers will phonate gently.
Listening suggestions: unmediated in all spaces, streamed. Possibly video.
Meditations on Hildegard (8 mins) by Matthew Spring
I lost my hearing through Meningitis as a child, though subsequent ear infections reduced what remained, and wear two hearing aids (bone anchored and a very old analogue aid). I have performed on a number of instruments for some decades - mainly early instruments - lute, guitars, hurdy-gurdy, etc - but can play traditional instruments. As with all deafness my hearing problems are unique - and I never know how I am going to be hearing day to day. Tinnitus is a constant problem and I rely quite heavy on lip reading and positioning - being in the right place to communicate. My problems are much more to do with quality of sound - as with hearing aids I hear a lot but always of good enough quality. Sound above middle c I hear well for pitch - but below this my pitch sensitivity declines.
Instrumentation: voice, hurdy-gurdy, hanging bells.
Description: Various. but some quite loud
Listening: unmediated in main space, streamed to hearing aids, or headphones.
Anya Ustaszewski: Vox Random (c. 6 mins)
Instrumentation: Voice/Speech sounds over a pre-recorded track. Description: Slow tempo. Fairly soft, but some 'plosive' and staccato speech/voice sounds at points.
Listening: unmediated in any space, streamed to headphones/hearing aids.
Andrew Hugill: St. George's Island Revisited (3 mins)
Instrumentation: flute (Anya), clarinet (Ruth), viol (Matthew), percussion (Simon), keyboard (Andrew). Conducted by John.
Description: a short chorale evoking Looe Island and featuring Matthew Spring on viol. Mostly fairly quiet, but there is a louder bit in the middle.
Listening suggestions: either unmediated or streamed.
Short Break (1')
Andrew Hugill: Kelston Birdsong (c. 8 mins)
Instrumentation: flute (Anya), clarinet (Ruth), viol (Matthew), percussion (Simon), digital instruments (Andrew) and sound samples (John).
Description: quiet, meditative composition with a mix of acoustic music and birdsong related to Kelston Roundhill. The piece is specially composed for the hearing profiles of each musician. Few variations in loudness, mostly fairly quiet.
Listening: those who wish to listen on headphones are invited to go for a walk outside (if the weather's nice). Otherwise, this may be heard in any way you choose.
Sensonic (installation) by Sam Sturtivant
'...the universe is probably full of music that we cannot perceive'
Sir John Lubbock, considering the limits of the audible spectrum, 1879
This is an installation for vibrating floor and three loudspeakers that uses infrasound as a vehicle with which to explore intersensorial music creation. It features low frequency sounds that may be felt but not 'heard' in the conventional sense. The audience is invited to experience this via the vibrating floor only. Those who find low frequency sounds uncomfortable should leave the concert altogether before this piece begins. The installation will run until everyone has experienced as much as they wish.
Sam is an electroacoustic composer working near Bath. He has a notch loss in the upper frequencies.
The concert is sponsored by: