The earth has music for those who listen

Henry Webster, one of our resident musicians at GOSH, has created a new project inviting you to send in sounds and create a new composition together. 

Here is Henry’s introduction to the project:

“This project involves a combination of intentional listening and a compositional technique called Musique Concrète. Musique Concrète is an experimental technique for composing music using recorded sounds as raw materials. 

I’d like you to record sounds using your phone or iPad and send them to me to use in a piece of music. The focus should not necessarily be on making the sound to start with, but should be on noticing the quality of sounds that occur around you every day that you usually don’t even notice. Capturing them in a recording and sending them to me is in fact step two. This project is an opportunity for us to collaborate on musical compositions”.

Instructions for this activity:

  • Watch the introductory video above
  • Have a good listen to the sounds that are happening around you
  • Record your favourite sounds on a phone or iPad
  • Email your recordings to GOSHarts@gosh.nhs.uk (including the email subject ‘Music clip for Henry’)

Make sure you include...

  • A short description of what your sound is (e.g. “The fan in my room whirring”, “dropping a pencil on the floor”, “ruffling my bedsheets”)
  • Whether you are a patient, a parent or a member of staff
  • Optional: If you would like your name listed in the “thank yous” at the end of the video, let us know and include your name in the email.
  • Wait to hear from me with the progress of our collaborative piece of music!

Looking for more inspiration? Listen to Henry's own composition Beach Stones. Henry created this video by looping and manipulating the sounds seen in this video. No additional materials were used.

This is an example of the compositional technique called Musique Concrète.

Additional activities

If you enjoyed the activity above, you may also enjoy one of the additional activities below.

Additional Activity 1: 

Get something to write with and write on, then find yourself a comfortable position. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Listen carefully to the sounds which are going on around you. Each time you notice something, calmly write it down, then close your eyes again and listen a little bit deeper to see what else you can hear.

Here are some questions you may want to consider when you have completed your list and your eyes are back open:

Did you discover any new sounds that you had not noticed before?
Were there any sounds that you particularly liked the sound of?
Was your room quieter or noisier than you thought before, or about the same?
Could you hear fast sounds or slow sounds?
When you close your eyes, do the sounds around you paint a picture in your imagination?
Do you associate any of the sounds around you with a particular colour, animal, memory or person?

Additional Activity 2:

Look around your room and choose one object to use to make sounds with. Spend some time with just this object to see what sounds it can make. Try to think of all of the different ways you could use it to make different sounds. If you make any sounds you like, please share them with me to include in the next piece of music!

Please let us know if you enjoyed these activities, or if they had any impact on the way you think about sounds by emailing GOSHarts@gosh.nhs.uk.