Image © Nichola Scrutton
New Worlds is a spoken word / sound composition created with writer Martin O’Connor in Autumn 2022. The piece weaves together recordings from Your Voice in Greenock, Inverclyde, Martin’s poems, field and other recordings.
Read more about the project and listen to New Worlds at: http://www.martinoconnor.info/new-worlds.html
Dream Stream – a Radio Art Zone Commission
Dream Stream was commissioned by Radio Art Zone as part of their 100-day programme inviting 100 artists to create 22-hour long radio works for European Capital of Culture at Esch 2022, Luxembourg. https://radioart.zone
Dream Stream weaves together field recordings, voice, fragments of text, visualisations, stories, performance and archive materials in a sonic contemplation of inner / outer landscapes. The sound of water is a thread across the whole duration. From that constantly shifting ‘surface’, various other sound worlds emerge and recede in a transient dream-like encounter.
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Many thanks indeed to Sarah, Knut and all at Radio Art Zone.
Artwork © Nichola Scrutton
2022-23 – Phase 2
I’m thrilled to say that I have been awarded Creative Scotland funding for the Night Vision project over 2022-23.
As part of a general website overhaul, I have temporarily removed background information, credits and plans for Night Vision so I can update all the details.
In the meantime, I’ll be posting news about select performances and a recording, to be released first on Bandcamp in early April and then across all music platforms on 28th April so please do connect / follow for updates. Many thanks.
Many thanks indeed to everyone who has supported Night Vision.
Test-Pitting – a collaborative residency
Zoë Strachan and I had a two-week residency at Glasgow Project Room in April/May 2022.
In our residency we were engaging in a process of ‘test-pitting’ to develop new work around themes of excavation as a means of opening an aperture onto fragile lines of connection between inner and outer landscapes.
In archaeology a test-pit is a trial, a delving in to reveal layers, fragments of artefacts, the potential of a site of enquiry. It enables a snapshot of composition and decomposition, of life cycle and decay in the earth. Grids and tracing map the process.
We shared some work-in-progress at the end of the residency in an event that included an informal performance and Q+A chat.
Zoë and I have an ongoing collaboration making sound art works and experimental radio combining newly written and found text, composed sound, field recordings, found sound, voice and improvisation.
Salt Cellar – a collaborative radio art work
Zoë Strachan and I first performed Salt Cellar as a live-to-air broadcast on Radiophrenia, 11th February 2022, in the Creative Lab at the CCA Glasgow.
What is a prompt? It’s an inciting, a bringing forth, an augury, an urge, a bringing to light. In this live to broadcast performance, Nichola Scrutton and Zoë Strachan employ a cootie catcher (also known as a salt cellar) to provoke a series of discreet but interlinked improvisations based on texts, photographs and physical objects. Thus they seek to enact an archaeology of embodied memory within the palimpsest of a time-limited performance space.
Zoë and I collaborate to make sound art/experimental radio combining newly written and found text, composed sound, field recordings, found sound, voice and improvisation.
Devising and delivering a series of voice workshops with Wendy Kirkup as part of her 2021 research and development towards a new film looking at 16mm film and improvised voice.
Performers/participants: Wendy, Catherine, Laura, Nicole and Emmie. The film footage was captured by Alex Hetherington, and Stevie Jones recorded the sound. See more of Wendy’s work at Wendy’s Instagram.
Group photo © Alex Hetherington. Film photo © Nichola Scrutton
I am delighted to be collaborating as a vocalist with artist Anne Colvin on her moving image artwork/experience Dear Prudence re-imagined. More information about the work is available at Dear Prudence re-imagined.
Up Closeness – a collaborative radio artwork
Zoë Strachan and I continue our exploration of performing live experimental radio artwork. Up Closeness is a dialogue between two green urban spaces, a close look at the local. An attempt to find small connections amid the dislocation from everyday life. Field recordings and voice sounds are combined with found and composed text to animate distinct temporal spaces. Live improvisation and embedded writing practice enact a mimetic re-inhabiting of space.
We first performed Up Closeness as a live broadcast at Radiophrenia Glasgow on 20th November 2020 in CCA Glasgow.
Necessary Notes: A Vocal Response – solo performance as part of the Stolen Voices album launch on 8th February 2020.
“Nichola Scrutton is, as ever, an absolute wonder- her voice can disarm, charm and bewitch….She takes the listener into otherwordly realms, an uncertain space between sleep and consciousness.” (The Tempohouse)
Read the full review by Lorna Irvine.
The album launch was part of a creative research project by Rebecca Collins and Johanna Linsley – more here. The event forms part of ‘The Sonic Study Series: Act I Sonic Practice’ and is a pop-up event for the Festival of Creative Learning 2020, University of Edinburgh. Many thanks to Rebecca and Johanna for the invitation. More info about the event at CCA Stolen Voices.
When Night Comes was a solo performance created in dialogue with Wendy Kirkup’s film from a score (2017). In the film I perform Berio’s Sequenza III for solo voice. After Wendy’s films were selected to be screened at the 5th Edition of the Beton 7 Festival in Athens, Greece in 2018, I was invited to perform at the opening as a response to the film prior to the screening on the opening night of the festival. My improvised performance drew inspiration and gestures from both my knowledge of Berio’s score and the compositional and material aesthetic of the film itself. The title is a play on a fragment of text from Berio’s score – “before night comes”.
The Mark of the Beast – a collaboration as composer/sound artist with writer/theatre-maker Martin O’Connor that explores lived experience of alcohol and addiction in Glasgow.
Between November 2015 and March 2016, Martin and I worked with the North East Recovery Community to create materials for a sound installation Good Days Bad Days. I composed a ‘soundtrack’ from the many voices/stories of participant’s experiences that was projected as an immersive installation at Platform Glasgow. The work was commissioned by GEAC Platform-to-Health and GRAND (Getting Real About Alcohol n Drugs).
The installation was research and development for Martin’s live solo show The Mark of the Beast , for which I re-composed the Good Days Bad Days material in 2018.
Through the Rough Breathing project I have been collaborating with clarinettist Alex South to investigate the role and use of breath as an improvising tool in live performance. Our collaborative exploration to date has focused on a) the psychoacoustic and sonic relationships between voice and clarinet, and b) breath and bodily breathing processes as potential material and/or structural devices within free improvisation. One line of inquiry, for example, centres on how the breath might sculpt the dynamic flow of sound-making in performance.
With early exploratory performances at The Glad Cafe and Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre (many thanks John Cavanagh), the work was further supported and developed through a CCA/AC Projects Residency in the Creative Lab at CCA 2018 and Tectonics Festival 2019.
In 2020, Rough Breathing was shortlisted for the Scottish Awards for New Music Ism Prize for Collaboration.
Static Flux – a radio art and performance collaboration
Zoë Strachan and I first produced Static Flux as a live studio broadcast for Radiophrenia in 2017. The work was then selected for a live performance at Hidden Door Festival 2018.
Static Flux focuses on out-of-time memory states, and how they can be both static and in flux. We are interested in exploring narrative and time through chance encounters with remnants, fragments and the ephemera of past lives. Metaphors for our endeavour include the remnants found in second-hand bags and the pockets of clothing, or in notes scribbled on the back of black and white photographs. There is a melancholy air to these things, but as with any kind of haunting, also the potential for fear, and for deeper connections with our own sense of mortality.
I was delighted to be invited by Wendy to perform Berio’s Sequenza III for her film film from a score in August 2017. More information and a private viewing is possible on request.
In the final week of the Sura Medura residency we headed up the road for the opening of Colombo Art Biennale in Sri Lanka. I was excited to also have been invited by Shereen Perera to create a live score for the Video Jam event on the opening night. I responded with a solo vocal performance to a beautiful, strange and thoughtful clip of Sri Lankan film-maker Vimukthi Jayasundara’s Light in the Yellow Breathing Space.
The event took place on 2nd December 2016 at the ZMax Fairway Hotel roof terrace and was part of the Colombo Biennale Performing Arts Programme.
Video Jam at Colombo Art Biennale
Here’s a short clip from the Video Jam at the opening night of the Colombo Art Biennale. The link takes you straight through to the Facebook page of Decibel.lk – a Sri Lankan online news, reviews and events site…just click the image to play…
Thanks to Decibel for that. And big thanks to Shereen Perera for inviting me to score for Video Jam.
I was delighted to be performing solo on the first programme of a new BBC Radio 3 series – Exposure. The programme ‘explores the local alternative and underground music scenes’.
The live event is on 23rd September 2016 in Glasgow at the Glad Cafe. The programme will be broadcast on 29th September at 11 pm and available online for a month.
In Transit – a collaborative live-to-air broadcast
Radiophrenia commissioned me and writer Zoë Strachan to collaborate on a Live-to-Air commission. We performed live from the Radiophrenia studio on 5th September 2016 at CCA Glasgow.
In our collaboration we explored the state of being In Transit and how it disrupts the interior monologues of two people on separate but overlapping journeys of a slightly mysterious kind.
Radiophrenia is a temporary art radio station broadcasting from the CCA in Glasgow. In 2016 it produced a two-week exploration into current trends in sound and transmission arts.
I was thrilled to be selected for a six-week Sura Medura residency with UZ Arts from October to December 2016. The Sura Medura residency on this occasion was being hosted in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka. My fellow artists were Natasha Russell and Sumit Sarkar, and two other artists arrived later in the residency – Martin Janicek and Samson Ogiamien. Early experience after arrival was a whirlwind of sensations and there was definitely a process of settling into Sunbeach and adjusting – heat, humidity, sounds, smells, surf, swimming, dogs, jungle, mozzies, food, walks, and meeting many warm friendly folk along the way sharing experiences, tips and ideas.
As part of the residency we travelled to Colombo and gave presentations to staff and students in the University Faculty of Visual and Performing Arts in week 3. That was a really good day – as well as meeting people, we were fortunate to be shown round all the art departments then had lunch before travelling back.
Thinking about soundscapes
The sound environment is generally very dense and I spent quite a bit of time actively listening and drawing.The area has two main aspect – beach and jungle – and each has its own distinct soundscape. On the beach side the sea roars continuously as the surf thunders in and on the jungle side the air is thick with heat, bird song, massive trees rustling and people going about their daily lives. A railway line runs between the two through much of the area and regular trains, horns and bells punctuate the air. In the mix are a whole rich array of sounds – the hollering voices of people selling at markets and on the street, the honking and revving of huge buses overtaking other vehicles at breakneck speed (treacherous), thunderstorms and torrential rain, intermittent firework eruptions, the bread, fish and other vans making melodic announcements and so on. I created two soundscape pieces – Sabda saha Pintura and Wave Shift.
In week five we hosted a Moving Out public event at Sunbeach as part of the Colombo Art Biennale, which was a big success. And actually it was on my birthday so an extra cake was involved at the end of the night. Read a bit more info on that at Moving Out. Finally, we had a trip up to Colombo for the opening of the Biennale. I also had been invited to perform/score a film clip at the opening as part of Video Jam. More info on that at Video Jam…
Huge thanks to Neil and all at UZ Arts, Chaminda, Chathura, Hasantha, Kari and all at Sunbeach, Maria and Jack, my fellow artists-in-residence, everyone I met.
Glasgow Soundscapes: Place, Space and Memory
I am delighted to have been invited by Dominique Balaÿ to curate a programme for broadcast on WebSYNradio from 16th – 30th June 2016. Alongside a selection of my own works are compositions by Alistair MacDonald, Bethan Parkes, Luca Nasciuti and Mark Vernon – big thanks to them for contributing.
Read more and listen at synradio.fr.
A sound installation created in collaboration with writer/theatre-maker Martin O’Connor.
Martin and I undertook a 5-month research and development period with Glasgow’s North East Recovery Community commissioned by Platform-to-Health and GRAND (Getting Real About Alchohol N Drugs). Participants were engaged in conversations focusing on remembering their first and last alcoholic drink, to open up bigger discussions of childhood and family life; living conditions and wider society in Glasgow and the impact of addiction and recovery on individuals and communities.
These conversations formed the basis of an immersive sound installation that was staged at Platform Glasgow and as a headphone installation at Outskirts Festival in 2016.
At First Light is a studio composition (8’49). Arising from an ongoing strand of exploration around ideas of ‘ephemeral’, At First Light is a vocal meditation inspired by the play of light at sunrise and a notion that each moment may be filled with the past, present and future. The process of making the piece involved repeated exploration of the material ideas using a simple MAXMSP patch, with the final work being created in a single real-time improvisation. While a version of the piece was ultimately fixed to become At First Light, inherent in the process and the material is an idea of transient evolution – emergence, cycle and decay.
The piece was selected for:
‘Women in Sound/Women on Sound‘ Symposium at Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts (LICA) (2015)
New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival Concert 35 (NYCEMF) (2016)
‘Tomorrow, Today will be Yesterday‘ group installation at CAAA, Guimaraes, Portugal, ELO, Victoria BC, Canada, and LCGA, Limerick, Ireland as part of the Screen Dance Festival.
I was absolutely delighted to be one of four composers selected for the Choreographers and Composers Lab 2015 – a two-week intensive residency with Phoenix Dance Theatre in Leeds. The residency was led by Sharon Watson and Ken Hesketh, with guest speakers – Robert Cohan, Peter Weigold, Zoé Martlew, Dr Jo Butterworth, Mike Dixon, Didy Veldman.
Choreographers: Adrienne Hart, Mbulelo Ndabeni, Claire Lefèvre and Sandrine Monin.
Composers: Roberto David Rusconi, Nichola Scrutton, Sarah Westwood and Eloise Gynn.
Dancers: Hannah Bateman, Francesca Caselli, Andreas Grimaldier, Joshua Harriette, Carmen Marfil, Marie Astrid Mence, Ben Mitchell, Vanessa Pang, Alice Shepherdson, Sam Vaherlehto , Prentice Whitlow.
Musicians: Hara Alonso, Oliver Dover, Sean Hamilton, Becky Yen-Huan
Sonnets was a series of live, interactive, largely improvised sound poems, and was created for a Radiophrenia live-to-air commission in 2015. The work drew on the root meanings of the title word – from ‘son’ (song) and ‘sonus’ (sound) – rather than the traditional poetic form. I used minimal processing, and focused instead on weaving together a palette of breathy sounds, phonemic fragments and vocal gestures into a series of self-contained but interlinked sound worlds, sometimes with field recordings, to invoke or reference a fictional place or state.
(Please note the sound clips are currently off-air)
A new solo live work City Song has been selected for performance at the forthcoming Sound Kitchen as part of Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space in June 2015. See the Event page here for more info and links.
City Song explores a shifting dynamic of power, connectedness and fragmentation, and emerged during development time that was supported by a Creative Scotland Artists’ Bursary Award.
I composed a soundscape for Teine Èiginn / Need Fire – an installation created by Dougie Strang for the Hidden Door Festival 2015.
The teine èiginn, or need fire, was lit during a ritual enacted in times of illness, amongst people and/or livestock. Records show that the ritual was still in use in remote communities in the Scottish Highlands up until the end of the nineteenth century.
Watch a short film version …
In addition to my own voice on the soundtrack, many thanks to Dougie Strang and Rona MacDonald for singing a song each.
Vocal performance with Away with the Birds, Hanna Tuulikki’s site-specific work for 9/10 voices that explores mimesis of birds in Gaelic song. More info at Hanna’s Away with the Birds on Facebook and Tumblr page.
August: Isle of Canna
March: Tramway, Glasgow
June: Tectonics Festival, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow
Composer/sound designer with Martin O’Connor for A Govan of the Mind/Theology, performed at The Pearce Institute as part of The Arches Behaviour Festival in April 2014.
Nominated for a CATS Award 2013-14 – Best Music and Sound Category
The show is in two parts: Part 1, Theology is a Glaswegian-dialect version of the Catholic Order of Mass, with composition by Oliver Searle, performed with a local male choir brought together for the production; and Part 2 A Govan of the Mind is a non-narrative epic poem celebrating the beauty of our everyday language.
Design: Rachel O’Neill, lighting design: Kate Bonney, choir leader: Matt Regan. See here for full team and more info.
KPC Sound Mix is a sound artwork commissioned by Kinning Park Complex and Open Jar Collective for Broth Mix – a food-based project that will run in KPC for two weeks during Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art from 7th – 14th April 2014.
The sound artwork is a collage of field recordings, interviews, and music clips that presents a snapshot of KPC. The piece will be available on MP3 players with headphones at KPC during the two-week period and can be downloaded here at KPC Sound Mix.
Many thanks indeed to all the contributors!
Interviews and field recordings
Ammy Jay, Amrik Kanr, Anne Davidson, Catherine Weir, Chris, Clem Sandison, Helen Kyle, Kinning Park Complex, Lindsay Keenan, Nicole’s dance class, Reuben Chesters – Locovore, Women’s cooking/gardening group
Erin Scrutton, Nichola Scrutton, Kirsty Ewing, Barbara Chalmers, Michelle Drumm
Luskentyre and Stevie Jones
Martin Douglas (tuba)
Sokobauno Puppet and Object Theatre
Shane Connolly (composer; reading; performance – accordian, percussion), Stevie Jones (recording), Alasdair Roberts (guitar), Georgie McGeown (flute)