Programme of SOS 2015

A unique series of masterclasses exploring the art of sound in film, the arts and media

Wednesday – Saturday
8-11 April 2015
Purcell Room, Southbank Centre


Editor and sound designer WALTER MURCH
Composer and teacher STEPHEN DEUTSCH
Choreographer SIOBHAN DAVIES in conversation with composer/performer MATTEO FARGION
Opera and theatre director PETER SELLARS
Sound artist and Foley specialist NICOLAS BECKER
Artist, filmmaker and writer JOHN AKOMFRAH
Installation artist IMOGEN STIDWORTHY
Radio producer PIERS PLOWRIGHT
Sami yoiker ÁNDE SOMBY
Performance artist DICKIE BEAU
Sound/music composer GERHARD ECKEL
Filmmaker and composer NADIM MISHLAWI
Sound designer RANA EID
Sound designer and composer KRISTIAN SELIN EIDNES ANDERSEN
and interactive games sound designers MARTIN STIG ANDERSEN and JOANNA ORLAND with composer, audio director and consultant JOHN BROOMHALL.

Below is a complete, day-by-day schedule for the four days.

What is the School of Sound?

The School of Sound is a symposium created to encourage a cross-disciplinary approach to using sound in the arts and media. We explore what sound does, how audiences listen.

It is a place where you can raise your awareness of how audio production works, how it conveys information and emotion, how you can work with it.

Sound always seems to be occupying areas of ambiguity – the emotional, the subtext, the intuitive, the borders between reality and fantasy, the conscious and the subconscious. But how do you think about something so ephemeral? And how do you teach it?

For four days, you’ll be immersed in a world of imagination, invention and innovation. Listening to presentations from a diversity of incredible talents, you will be able to reflect on sound as something that is profoundly complex, entertaining and important.

Why attend the School of Sound?

The SOS provides a rare opportunity to hear and meet a group of very talented creatives working at the highest levels of the arts and media speaking in detail about how they think and work.

And the SOS is not about just one area of sound production. It covers film, theatre, dance, games, installation, music and radio, allowing you to expand your thinking and increase your ability to work in diverse areas of media and the arts.

At the SOS you will mix with hundreds of like-minded people – professional practitioners, educators, artists and students – with whom you can network, exchange ideas and create collaborations. You won’t learn how to use hardware or software. But it will move you to say, “I never thought of working that way.”


Wednesday, 8 April

0900     Doors open – registration
1000     Welcome, opening remarks

The Tallatchie Bridge and Other Mysteries – Broadcaster and writer Piers Plowright explores the pictures that sound creates and considers the silence that surrounds the best music and words. His starting point is Bobby Gentry’s 1967 hit, Ode to Billie Joe.

Jocelyn Pook’s body of work spans the gamut of audio-visual art forms, from film, theatre, and opera to works for voice, galleries and the concert hall. Using extracts from John Smith’s Blight, Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, her own Portraits in Absentia – a composition emerging from the banal, yet haunting, sounds of answering machine messages – and DV8 Physical Theatre’s Strange Fish, she looks at a range of projects across different media, touching on the variety of processes, requirements and inspirations that shaped them.

1230   Lunch

The renowned Foley artist (Gravity, Wuthering Heights) who has now turned to more abstract, space-based sound work, describes his techniques and methods.Looking at work as diverse as Zidane, Gravity, Wuthering Heights and Philippe Perreno’s Marilyn, Becker refelects on how he uses the complex technology available to sound designers to realise his artistic vision.

1500     Break

1530     ÁNDE SONBY
The animals inside the man and the man outside the animals
Are we simply humans? Or are there animals inside of us? Plants? Landscapes?
This is the underlying question in Ánde Somby’s preformance. During the performance there will be given “yoik-impersonations” of birds, insects and animals.
This is influenced by the idea of transformation in the pre-Christian Sámi religion – that a human could transform into an animal and back to a human again. And the inspiration is that in our modern day many birds and animals are threatened. How would they feel about pollution, for example?

1615     DICKIE BEAU
Memory and Lip-sync – Dickie has gained notoriety as a pioneer of “playback” performance: the uncanny embodiment (or “re-memberment”) of found sound – a style of performance that emerges from the drag tradition of lip synching. He positions the body as an archive, especially of the “missing” – re-visioning and playing back voices from the margins: voices of figures we might not normally hear in the mainstream, in ways that we might not be accustomed to hearing them.

1800   Drinks reception in the Purcell Room foyer

Thursday, 9 April

The Choreography of Sound – Eckel presents his work, Zeitraum (German for ‘timespan’, literally ‘time space’), a sound environment exposing the interrelation of time and space in acoustic communication.A central finding of the project was, that sound can also be understood as a choreographic device. The project started out with the idea that sound would be the object of choreography, composers would move ‘bodies of sound’ around in space. Towards the end I discovered this other reading, where sound choreographs the audience, especially in installation situations.”

1130     Break

Hearing Movement
The relationship between sound, movement and performance is the focus of this conversation between Davies, one of Europe’s leading choreographers, and collaborator Fargion, a composer and performer whose works have been performed around the world. Looking and listening to excerpts of their own work, they examine the process by which movement comes out of audio and, specifically, the differences between working with music and soundscapes. And following from that, they will question the varying effects of recorded or live music, analogue or synthesised, acoustics and the influence of an audience’s proximity to the performance.

1330     Lunch

Via videolink from Kingston, New York, Oliveros will discuss her life work with Deep Listening®, the practice and what it means to her. She will discuss and offer practices drawn from her Sonic Meditations, Deep Listening Pieces and Deep Listening: A Composer’s Sound Practice (iUniverse 2005).

1600     Break

Stidworthy talks about the relation between spatialising sound as part of an artistic language for producing new spaces of subjectivity, memory and narrative, and the technologies she uses to shape those spaces. She discusses the voice at the borders of language through her most recent project, Balayer – A Map of Sweeping (2014) – a three-screen installation with ambisonic sound (see Speakers’ Biographies for more details), and a number of related works.

Evening Events

2000     Purcell Room

These three artists all have complex, indirect relationships to sound and its performance but they come together in a spirit of questioning, asking what it is to make sound and listen in a space, to be a body with other bodies in relation to light, to work within time, silence and emptiness, to explore presence and the memory of presence, to leave an impression of different ways to listen to sound in the moment of its making.
£10 / £5 for SOS delegates
Tickets from the Southbank Centre box office.

1830 – 2000    GUIDED WALK of the SOUTHBANK
Fancy stretching your legs and getting some air? This fascinating walk will take you along the south bank of the River Thames, lined with historical and cultural gems and some of London’s famous landmarks. The walk takes in the “wobbly” bridge and Tate Modern, London Bridge, Francis Drake’s Golden Hinde sailing ship, the ancient Clink Prison, Shakespeare’s Globe, Southwark Cathedral, and the fashionable Borough Food market. Ending at the George Tavern, a 17th century coaching inn, on Borough High Street, which was frequented by Charles Dickens. Conducted by London Tour Guide Isabelle Seddon
22 places
£10 – To book a place email
Meet at  Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer entrance.

Friday, 10 April

Having worked as a sound designer and composer on some of the most significant European films of the last two decades, Andersen talks about his work in relation to major collaborations with Lars von Trier (Antichrist, Melancholia, Nymphomaniac); Nicholas Winding Refn (Only God Forgives), Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt) and, most recently, Per-Olav Sørensen (The Heavy Water War). He discusses the ways he works with directors at an early stage of production – and how von Trier operates differently! He will look into his methods of creating a soundtrack or musical theme and the landscape in between the two. He considers a film’s whole soundscape like a score. “Music, dialogue, foley and fx are all instruments and can be orchestrated with some of the same tools I use when composing a musical piece – dissonance, dynamics, expression, harmony, pauses, tone, colour, etc.”

1130     Break

The Soundscape of Conflict – Images of car bombs, assassinations, armed conflict, protests and fiery politicians are the world’s postcards from Beirut. And over time, these images have come to trigger hatred, superiority, racism and, most importantly – fear. It is through listening to Beirut, or any city for that matter, that one can overcome the prejudice of these images and create a subjective affinity. And it is through sounds that we can identify and empathize with events that at first seem strangely alien to us.

1315     Lunch

1415     GAMES PANEL
, composer and sound creative (Forza Motorsport 5, X-Com, Transport Tycoon) and founder of the Games Music Connect conference, brings together two leading sound designers in  this session exploring the ways sound is evolving across the range of interactive entertainment. With
Sound designer for the acclaimed Limbo, by Playdead, Andersen analyses his techniques for creating soundtracks in the indie-game environment, looking forward to his next release, Inside.
Having worked at EA Criterion (Black, Burnout) and currently Senior Sound Designer at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe with credits that include Wonderbook, Diggs Nightcrawler and Project Morpheus, Joanna describes the level of research and conceptualising required for AAA games.

1615     Break

Sellars wrote, ‘We are beyond the era of sound “effects.” Sound is no longer an effect, an extra, a garni supplied from time to time to mask a scene change or ease a transition. We are beyond the era of door buzzers and thunderclaps. … Sound is the holistic process and program that binds our multifarious experience of the world.”
Sellars’ interest in sound stems from his time studying with Ivan Tcherepnin in Harvard’s Electronic Music Studio. After that, his first job was a sound recordist. In this talk, via videolink from Los Angeles, the iconoclastic theatre and opera director explains his very personal approach to sound, it’s basis in spiritual philosophy and classic theatre and his belief in breaking the slave/master relationship between sound and image.

Evening Event

2000     MATTEO FARGION performs John Cage’s LECTURE ON NOTHING
John Cage gave two talks at the Artists Club in New York in 1950: Lecture on Something and Lecture on Nothing. Both were later published in his collected writings Silence, but are rarely performed. Lecture on Nothing, notable for being structured as a piece of music, remains one his most approachable, witty, poetic and inspiring texts, still sounding radical and contemporary over sixty years after it was written.

Interval, followed by

2100     ALL THIS CAN HAPPEN by Siobhan Davies and David Hinton
A flickering dance of intriguing imagery brings to light the possibilities of ordinary movements from the everyday which appear, evolve and freeze before your eyes. Made entirely from archive photographs and footage from the earliest days of moving image, All This Can Happen (2012) follows the footsteps of the protagonist from the short story ‘The Walk’ by Robert Walser. Juxtapositions, different speeds and split frame techniques convey the walker’s state of mind as he encounters a world of hilarity, despair and ceaseless variety.
The narration, spoken by actor John Heffernan, provides a stream of consciousness weaving through the mosaic of imagery. It forms part of the specially commissioned sound design by Chu-Li Shewring, which combines old sounds from the archives with specially created new sounds to build a highly detailed aural world that moves between the naturalistic, the hyper-real and the expressionist, depending on the walker’s state of mind.
£10 / £5 for SOS delegates
Tickets cover both events which cannot be booked separately.
Tickets from the Southbank Centre box office.

Saturday, 11 April

With examples from his work on Phil Kaufman’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being (the Soviet invasion of Prague), Terry Zwigoff’s Crumb, and Mark Levinson’s recent Particle Fever (documenting the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson), celebrated film editor and sound designer Walter Murch turns his sonic flashlight on the twilight zone between ‘theatrical’ and ‘documentary’ sound.

1130     Break

Narrative Acoustemologies – Director, writer and theorist, Akomfrah’s body of work embraces documentaries, feature films and exhibitions that have garnered international critical acclaim. In this presentation he explores the changing language of sound in different artistic formats. His talk features his own work (The Nine Muses, The Unfinsished Conversation and The Stuart Hall Project) as well as examples from Tarkovsky and Marker.

1330     Lunch

A chance for everyone to meet in small groups and speak informally with the symposium presenters. Purcell Room foyer

1615     Break

1645     MONO – WHY NOT?
STEPHEN DEUTSCH with Walter Murch, Kristian Eidnes Andersen, Imogen Stidworthy and others.
In this closing session Deutsch will consider the advantages and limitations of working in monaural sound. Can mono be a way of creating greater engagement in the viewer? His talk will be followed by a discussion with several of the speakers.

1800   Closing

1815   Goodbye drinks

The SOS 2015 programme is subject to change. The School of Sound reserves the right to make changes to the content, schedule, list of speakers, topics or venue. All updates will be listed on this website.

Siobhan Davies2Songbook,-Matteo-Fargion---Pari-Naderi-014Peter-SellarsJohn-Akomfrahblackouts-45blackouts-5Galactic Structure of Universe
EckelTO LARRYBEIRUTA-Format Soundfield_DSCN5844 copyFARGION-smallstidworthy-siteJohnBroomhall-222x222sdglobe-theatre-london-mapaki_2sirbmaRie_1DANCERS from Songbook by Matteo Fargion, part of ROTOR by Siobhan Davies Dance, photo by Pari Naderi.

‘Otto the Giant’ still from All This Can Happen, courtesy of British Pathe