UK composers mix bottle beat music and Bushisms

Thu Sep 18, 2008 11:24am EDT
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By Neal Parsons

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - What do George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld have in common with empty soft drink bottles and two British music composers?

They are all part of a new classical music tour of Britain, which throws politics and percussion together in works by composers Graham Fitkin and Gabriel Prokofiev, grandson of Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev.

Both composers have abandoned traditional classical instruments for more exotic music-making, using such things as the xylosynth, a cross between the xylophone and a synthesizer, glass bottles and oil drums.

Fitkin's musical piece "Chain of Command" uses vocal samples taken from speeches made by Bush and Rumsfeld about the Iraq war as well as inquiries into prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the U.S. security detainee prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

His interest was sparked by the reports of the U.S. military using continually looped music as torture.

"Like everybody I've been effected been the Iraq war, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, it's been affecting my music for some time," Fitkin said.

"The speeches are deconstructed to little syllables, and slowly I build the music up. The feel of the work is pretty hard edge, it doesn't stop. I'm layering bits of meaning on to the music, so that whilst it starts abstract, it then becomes clearer."

Prokofiev's "Import/Export" is no less political, dealing as it does with globalization and its environmental impacts, but has more accidental origins.   Continued...