Voiceworks Digital Song/Text Project: a collaboration between Birkbeck Centre for Poetics, Wigmore Hall & Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Lead Research Organisation: Birkbeck College
Department Name: English and Humanities

Abstract

The Voiceworks song programme is a collaborative exchange between the internationally recognised Centre for Poetics at Birkbeck College, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the major venue for the performance of song in Britain, Wigmore Hall. New songs are developed through a series of workshops and exchanges between young composers, poets and singers, which are then performed live at the Wigmore each year.

The aim of this project is to develop a digital platform - an interactive website - that will not only make these sound and visual files available, but also document the process of collaboration and materials which poets, composers and singers use to think about the crossings between their different traditions, including the way in which languages of poetry, music and sound can be thought in new digital environments. In addition to the focus on Voiceworks, which will include a blog for those participating in the programme and a live streaming of the Voiceworks performances at Wigmore Hall on the internet, the website will generate an archive of materials available to researchers and those interested in the wider interactions of text, music and song over the last century and beyond, a resource that can be added to as new work emerges. Those active on the project will also film and record with permission a range of contemporary work currently taking place in London - from live poetry, to sound performances, to new work in opera and song - which can be made available on the site.

The developing of a website such as this is an opportunity to think about the digital archive and its emerging possibilities as a research question in its own right. Discussion of, and active participation in the making of, the digital Voiceworks project will be supported by talks and colloquia throughout the period of the grant, culminating in a public symposium at Wigmore Hall. The curating of the website over the period will involve the exploration of how innovative poetic and song composition can be brought to wider audiences and new generations, by using the technologies of a digital environment (flickr, youtube, itunes, vimeo) to inform its work. It will include poets and composers in residence on the site for agreed periods of time, the commissioning of particular work or exchanges, interviews, the development of new areas of the archive by invited participants. Its aim is to exploit the creative possibilities of the digital field for the field of song, music composition and poetics, in a unique collaboration which brings the traditions and cultural/creative assets of an institution such as Wigmore Hall, as well as proven innovative practice and research at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and Birkbeck's Centre for Poetics, an internationally known forum for performance, publication and discussion of contemporary poetries, into new networks and potential.




Planned Impact

This research will produce direct benefits for those engaged in research in, and practitioners working with, song, composition and text/poetry, who will be able to access new archives and also participate on the site. Centrally, because of the unique nature of this collaboration, the project has the potential to connect and enrich a number of often discrete networks and audiences. Wigmore Hall as a renowned public institution has over 3500 Friends currently subscribed, selling 156,357 tickets last year for its song repertoire, and its educational programme - which first generated the Voiceworks song project - takes place in more than 40 schools. Guildhall School as an exceptional conservatoire brings in public audiences for existing and new work in music. The Birkbeck Centre for Poetics is embedded in local, national and international networks of research, performance and writing in poetry, including many non-academic circuits and groups who participate in free Birkbeck readings, internet events and conferences. All these networks would be able to access the cultural assets possessed and generated by each institution, as well as the exchange across media and disciplines the collaboration is exploring which is moving far beyond what would be possible individually. The website would also be fully searchable to the general public online.
The distinctive impact of this digital development has considerable and unique benefits. It is important in rapidly transforming digital environments to open the wealth of what might be seen as traditional cultural forms - song, music, opera, poetry - and their audiences, to new generations of innovative work and methods of encounter, and new listeners and song writers and composers - in order that that repertoire can continue to renew itself in the twenty-first century. At the same time new creative practice becomes informed and enriched by those resources, which are mobile. Institutions and their cultural assets can be porous to new audiences and groups in generative ways because of new digital modes of dissemination and contact. This renewal and open access is a crucial part of the health of cultural life, and the innovative outputs of this project - which networks through groups which would otherwise remain separated - would also underline Britain's cutting edge in the exploration of the potential of digital culture.
Birkbeck, Wigmore and Guildhall School all have developed external relations networks available to communicate this project, including track records of using the media such as the use of podcasts, social networking sites and established users (including schools, friends and students networks). This project has been planned to draw on that experience, but also to use new methods (flickr, vimeo, twitter, itunes, live streaming) and the curating of micro-sites to involve wider audiences in its materials. The impact can be felt quite quickly, and the ongoing Voiceworks collaboration will keep it live so that the realisation of benefits can be built over time and taken further. The interactive nature of the site (including blogs, feedback pages, mobile recording of work beyond the immediate programme, possible collaborations, use of artists in residence) means that it aims to bring in users as participants, not only as consumers and researchers. The research is in part about the active _practice_ of making a creative digital environment for new generations of song/text work, and keeping it dynamic beyond the end of the award. It is founded on a collaboration four years in its developing, and the new skills it will initiate among the team and wider participants will inform their continuing practice in national and international cultural life within and beyond the academy - as composers, poets, teachers, writers, performers, singers, musicians, curators, arts entrepreneurs - which Voic

Publications

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Watts C (2010) Set, Unset: Collaboration, Encounter and the Scene of Poetry in Contemporary Music Review

 
Title 'Pitch', a collaborative text/sound/vocal work 
Description A text/sound poem collaboration in homage to composer Luigi Nono exploring possibilities of voice, sound and field recording. 
Type Of Art Composition/Score 
Year Produced 2010 
Impact 'Pitch', streamed on French webSYN radio, curated by Caroline Bergvall, 25 November-2 December 2010; web podcast playlist_cbergvall_websynradio_MP3WRAP.mp3 'Pitch', sound poem collaboration with Will Montgomery, in homage to Luigi Nono, in In Every Dream Home, A Heartache, worksetting gallery, Huddersfield, 1 December 2010 to 22 January 2011 during the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival "Pitch', online web output, Delirious Hem poetics website 
URL http://delirioushem.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/pitch.html
 
Title 57 videos recording & documenting the Voiceworks process. 
Description Documentation of materials through video and sound files relating to the workshops, performance and process of the making of collaborative song/text practice on the Voiceworks project. Unique for its drawing together of writers, composers and singers in the making of song from the outset. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact Documentation of collaborative method and materials disseminated online, as part of a practice-based resource. Creation of new generation of artists informed by this collaborative process. 
URL http://resources.voiceworks.org.uk/voiceworks_process/
 
Title Compositions for Voiceworks song repertoire. 
Description Central to Voiceworks is the making of a new generation of song repertoire for the twenty-first century. The songs are made available online in sound files with accompanying material. 
Type Of Art Composition/Score 
Year Produced 2010 
Impact These outputs are annual and we continue to make them available as sound files online. Several of the songs have had repeated performances in a range of venues. The impact concerns the making of repertoire. One song first performed at Voiceworks in 2010 has been published by Faber Music. 
URL http://www.voiceworks.org.uk/works/
 
Title Conducting of Gerald Barry's landmark first opera The Intelligence Park with Crash Ensemble. 
Description Richard Baker's exploration of music/text during the Voiceworks project informed his conducting of Gerald Barry's first opera, The Intelligence Park, at its Dublin premiere in May 2011. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact Ongoing exploration of Gerald Barry's music. 
 
Title Guildhall Performance 2010 - The first performance of the Voiceworks programme to a public audience. 
Description The Voiceworks programme is first performed to a public audience in the Guildhall Conservatoire each year. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2010 
Impact This programmed performance is now an annual part of the Voiceworks year. 
 
Title Julian Philips - Composition - With the Guildhall School Drama Department of Wesker's theatricalisation of Aaron Appelfeld's Bodenheim 1939. 
Description Composition of music for Wesker's theatricalisation of Aaron Appelfeld's Bodenheim 1939. 
Type Of Art Composition/Score 
Year Produced 2010 
Impact First staging of the novel, with new text/music score. 
 
Title Julian Philips produced a song cycle based on the poetry of Amy Lowell as part of his Voiceworks practice led research. 
Description Love Songs of Amy Lowell, a short song cycle performed in 2011 at the Presteigne Festival. 
Type Of Art Composition/Score 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact Commissioning of further settings of Amy Lowell performed at Wigmore Hall. 
URL https://soundcloud.com/julian-philips-composer/11-the-taxi-poem-amy-lowell
 
Title Maggie O'Sullivan, Voiceworks Visiting Poet - Film of Workshop and collation of related materials for website dissemination. 
Description Collation of web resources - sound files, creative writing, artwork, and video of a workshop with Voiceworks participants with Maggie O'Sullivan as visiting artist. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact Collation of archived materials accessible to public audiences and researchers. 
URL http://resources.voiceworks.org.uk/voiceworks_textworks/keyworks_poets/maggie_osullivan_visiting_art...
 
Title New Opera Research Day: film and collation of materials 
Description A public research day held at the Barbican, exploring the current concerns which shape the making of new opera with writers, commissioners, composers, directors and performers, allowing for an exchange of ideas between operatic practitioners, students and the wider opera audience. Made available online for dissemination on the voiceworks site as video and a collation of materials. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact Part of the continuing reflection on the making of new opera which informs the ongoing creative work of Voiceworks participants, as well as new programmes now in place at GSMD. Online dissemination to wider audience. 
URL http://resources.voiceworks.org.uk/voiceworks_music/music_theatre_opera/new_opera_research_day_guild...
 
Title Poetry: collation of videos and materials 
Description The collation of materials relating to poets and poetry, audio and video files across different parts of the site, from Sounding Board and Visiting Artist pages to the Constellation pages in the Resources. 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact The making available of innovative poetry to new audiences and dissemination of collaborative poetry/sound/music works. 
URL http://resources.voiceworks.org.uk/constellations/sean_bonney.html
 
Title Sound poetry performances recorded in London venue 
Description public sound poetry performances by international sound poet Jaap Blonk with Voiceworks alumni in the venue Crossing the Line, curated alongside colloquium on voice at Birkbeck 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact production of new sound works 
URL http://www.voiceworks.org.uk/events/jaap_blonk_performance.html
 
Title The Voiceworks performance 2010 was live streamed over the internet and is available online on the Voiceworks site. 
Description The Voiceworks performance at Wigmore was live streamed in 2010 courtesy of Plush Music, Wigmore and the AHRC. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2010 
Impact The Voiceworks site was launched to coincide with the first live streaming of the Voiceworks performance of new song from Wigmore Hall, to an international audience. 
URL http://www.voiceworks.org.uk/works/
 
Title The creating of 9 'Sonic postcards' emerging from sonic recordings during the Voiceworks residency of Rebels in Control in January 2011. 
Description Development of site specific sonic postcards with zoom recorders as a means of exploring collaborative practice, with digital team in residence. Documented on the Voiceworks site. 
Type Of Art Composition/Score 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact Ongoing use of sonic postcards on the Voiceworks project and workshops tailored to their production. Ongoing exploration of collaborative song/text practice. http://resources.voiceworks.org.uk/voiceworks_process/documentation/voiceworks_1112_sharing_session_2_sonic_postcards.html 
URL http://resources.voiceworks.org.uk/voiceworks_process/documentation/voiceworks_20102011_sonic_postca...
 
Title Voiceworks Alumni Concert 
Description The Voiceworks Alumni Concert is a key part of the establishing of Voiceworks songs as repertoire. Now annually programmed each autumn, it allows Voiceworks alumni to showcase new work, and Voiceworks songs from previous years to be performed by new singers and instrumentalists. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact The development of Voiceworks songs as repertoire. Individual examples of work that has found new iterations as a consequence can be provided. 
URL http://www.voiceworks.org.uk/events/voiceworks_alumni_concert_wigmore_hall.html
 
Title Voiceworks Concert 2011 available as video and audio recordings on the Voiceworks site 
Description Collation of videos and soundfiles from the Voiceworks performance at Wigmore in 2011. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact Development of individual artists and collaborative creative teams in making ongoing new work. Dissemination of new work online. URL below is part of the documentation of the process - audiofiles are also available on the site for 2011 and for each year following. 
URL http://resources.voiceworks.org.uk/voiceworks_process/documentation/voiceworks_20102011_wigmore_hall...
 
Title Voiceworks Concert 2012 
Description The Voiceworks performance took place at Wigmore Hall in May 2012. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact The Wigmore audio recording of the performance failed to work in 2012. Emerging from this came a new event which is now forms an additional part of the Voiceworks year, the Voiceworks Alumni Concert which is programmed in the autumn. 
URL http://www.voiceworks.org.uk/events/voiceworks_2012_free_concert_performance_wigmore_hall.html
 
Title Voiceworks Concert Performance 2013 
Description Audio recordings of Voiceworks performance at Wigmore Hall. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact New work and ongoing development of the Voiceworks repertoire, disseminated online. 
URL http://www.voiceworks.org.uk/works/
 
Title song texts written by poets as part of Voiceworks collaborative process. 
Description Song texts written by poets as part of the Voiceworks collaboration are available online for each of the year of the programme, along with related videos and materials. 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2010 
Impact The songs created by the poets continue to be performed as part of the Voiceworks repertoire. Individual poets have built on the experience of song making as writers and performers to make new collaborative work with composers and musicians, including new operas and performance texts. 
URL http://www.voiceworks.org.uk/artists/
 
Description Voiceworks website established at Voiceworks.org.uk in March 2011. In the first year the site averaged over 5000 visitors monthly, with an average session last around 7 minutes. Further statistics available.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

 
Title The Voiceworks website includes a Resources database - a digital archive - shared between Birkbeck Poetics Centre and Guildhall Conservatoire 
Description The central aim of the Voiceworks digital project begun in 2010 was to create a new website - voiceworks.org.uk - in order to make available the work generated by the Voiceworks song/text project for wider dissemination and impact. In addition to profiles of the Voiceworks artists and their new song repertoire, the website includes a Resources section, in which the collaborative process is documented and data collected. This is an ongoing process over time. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The website disseminates materials, performances, videos and soundfiles online to new audiences. The website is well used: 
URL http://resources.voiceworks.org.uk/
 
Description Collaboration with Will Montgomery of Royal Holloway, Production of poetry and voice/sound work 'Pitch' in the light of Luigi Nano. 
Organisation Royal Holloway, University of London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Information taken from Final Report
 
Description J. Philips opera collaboration with the Guildhall School Drama Department on Wesker's theatricalisation of Aaron Appelfeld's Baddenheim 1939. 
Organisation Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Information taken from Final Report
 
Description Project developing a new site-specific promenade opera for the Barbican Campus, bringing together the Guildhall School, Barbican Centre and London Symphony Orchestra'. 
Organisation Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Information taken from Final Report
 
Description Voiceworks digital song/text project 
Organisation Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Principal Investigator on the Voiceworks Digital Song/Text project working with Research Assistant and liaising with digital team designing, planning and delivering the Voiceworks website at Voiceworks.org.uk. Co-creators of the Voiceworks programme since 2006, through the Birkbeck Contemporary Poetics Centre.
Collaborator Contribution Guildhall Conservatoire: co-investigators on the Voiceworks Digital Song/Text project, specialists in vocal studies, music and composition. Co-creators of the Voiceworks programme since 2006. Wigmore Hall: major international venue for song performance. As a project partner on the Voiceworks digital song/text project provided in-kind resources: use of Wigmore auditorium, staff time, ushers and programme preparation, marketing, printing and composer costs, and oversaw live streaming of Voiceworks performance with PlushMusic.
Impact Multidisciplinary collaboration between specialists in song and vocal performance, musical composition and poetics/writing/text, and London's major international venue for song performance. The AHRC funding 2010-2011 relates to the creation of the voiceworks website (voiceworks.org.uk) to showcase the new work in song generated by a unique collaborative partnership, creating a new generation of experimental artists and disseminating their work to new audiences. The Voiceworks collaborative process is documented on the site, and includes audio and video files as well as a collation of wider materials and links as a resources for those researching and creating in the field. The Wigmore performance each year is uploaded onto the site. The digital Voiceworks song/text project in 2010-11 generated further collaboration with Wigmore Learning, including an annual Voiceworks Alumni concert, underlining the production of new repertoire, and Composition Song/Text workshops for Schools taken by Voiceworks alumni which return as part of Wigmore's Schools Programme every three years. Voiceworks artists have continued to collaborate after the duration of the programme and produce new works for voice.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Voiceworks digital song/text project 
Organisation Wigmore Hall
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Principal Investigator on the Voiceworks Digital Song/Text project working with Research Assistant and liaising with digital team designing, planning and delivering the Voiceworks website at Voiceworks.org.uk. Co-creators of the Voiceworks programme since 2006, through the Birkbeck Contemporary Poetics Centre.
Collaborator Contribution Guildhall Conservatoire: co-investigators on the Voiceworks Digital Song/Text project, specialists in vocal studies, music and composition. Co-creators of the Voiceworks programme since 2006. Wigmore Hall: major international venue for song performance. As a project partner on the Voiceworks digital song/text project provided in-kind resources: use of Wigmore auditorium, staff time, ushers and programme preparation, marketing, printing and composer costs, and oversaw live streaming of Voiceworks performance with PlushMusic.
Impact Multidisciplinary collaboration between specialists in song and vocal performance, musical composition and poetics/writing/text, and London's major international venue for song performance. The AHRC funding 2010-2011 relates to the creation of the voiceworks website (voiceworks.org.uk) to showcase the new work in song generated by a unique collaborative partnership, creating a new generation of experimental artists and disseminating their work to new audiences. The Voiceworks collaborative process is documented on the site, and includes audio and video files as well as a collation of wider materials and links as a resources for those researching and creating in the field. The Wigmore performance each year is uploaded onto the site. The digital Voiceworks song/text project in 2010-11 generated further collaboration with Wigmore Learning, including an annual Voiceworks Alumni concert, underlining the production of new repertoire, and Composition Song/Text workshops for Schools taken by Voiceworks alumni which return as part of Wigmore's Schools Programme every three years. Voiceworks artists have continued to collaborate after the duration of the programme and produce new works for voice.
Start Year 2010