Faster Than Sound: Pushing The Boundaries of Contemporary Music


While conducting the first round of research for my white paper on online audience development, I stumbled across an exciting development in the world of music. I was first introduced to the genre of contemporary music when I noticed the growing trend of string players and, what sounded like, a classical music influence in many popular indie rock bands. Even though I have background primarily in jazz, both classical and jazz worlds share the same audience development woes. It was both promising and exciting to hear so many young musicians take classical music to new territory. Upon further exploration and research, I discovered that the work of many of these musicians and composers is being labeled as 'contemporary' or 'modern' music.While it can be tricky (and at times unfair!) to attach a definite label to these types of projects, it's important to recognize this growing movement, especially as it pertains to the intersection of arts and technology. Faster Than Sound is yet another great example of this type of project. Faster Than Sound, produced by the UK based Aldeburgh Music, is an experimental and cutting edge series that blurs the boundaries of classical and electronic music. There is a strong emphasis on commissioning new works, artists participating in residencies and innovative collaborations. There is also an emphasis on emerging technology, and all of the artists involved share a common goal of embarking on new musical adventures together.

Earlier this month, composer and visual artist, Christian Marclay, came to the series to develop a specially commissioned work entitled, Everyday. For this endeavor, Marclay collaborated with other musicians including Steve Beresford, John Butcher, Mark Sanders and Alan Tomlinson. Their ensemble also worked with a local marching band and employed the use of turntables. The work was not just limited to music, however. Everyday also combined found film footage sampled from old movies.

The next event in the series, Fall Back will feature a specially commissioned new work that will be created during a week long Aldeburgh Residency. The work will premiere on Saturday, Octover 29 at 8 pm. British dubstep artist, Roly Porter, will be joined by Cynthia Miller for a very special collaboration. The improvisation between these prolific exponents in one of the oldest and one of the newest forms of electronic music is sure to push genre boundaries, and create a truly unique musical experience. The music will be partnered by Rod Maclachlan's epic archaic visual projections.

For a small taste of what the series is like, check out the video above, and visit their Youtube channel! And stay tuned for a special podcast featuring some of the participating artists and creative director.