See me, feel me, touch me, heal me: A Conversation on the Multimodal Experience of Sound
This panel examined how people associate colour, shape, and touch to sound, how human sensory experience varies across individuals, and associations between the senses support uniquely human forms of communication like language and music. This conversation featured Xenia Pestova Bennett’s (University of Nottingham) semi-improvised work Glowing Radioactive Elements (2018, 25’), which consists of five interwoven movements, each exploring different timbral techniques for the Magnetic Resonator Piano. The MRP is an innovative instrument designed by Andrew McPherson (QMUL Augmented Instruments Lab). Electromagnets are suspended above the piano strings without coming into contact with the mechanism, allowing resonance to be “shaped” from the keyboard while retaining the use of the original action. The five pieces include continuous control of the resonance, pitch bends, harmonic glissandi, envelope shaping and a unique “stutter” of the MRP mechanism, an unintentional scanner by-product. Each movement is associated with a radioactive element and its “colour” signature. The panel examined how these quasi-synaesthetic poetic associations encourage interplay between artistic expression and listener by conversing with audience members and recording their perceptions of sound-colour and other crossmodal associations evoked during the performance. Additional panelists for this conversation: timbre researcher Charalampos Saitis (QMUL Centre for Digital Music; panel coordinator), cognitive linguist Christine Cuskley (Newcastle University), artist-performer and researcher Camille Baker (University for the Creative Arts), sound-led performance artist Julie Rose Bower (QMUL Drama), and artist-researcher Sebastian Löbbers (QMUL Media & Arts Technology).
On Deafness and ‘Hearing’ Music: A Conversation
Although it is often presumed that you need good hearing to appreciate music, the act of hearing extends across multiple senses. This conversation explored how we literally ‘hear’ music, which faculties might compensate if our hearing is impaired and whether hearing loss changes the way we ‘feel’ music from the perspectives of musicians and physicians. Panelists: Queen Mary's Director of Music Paul Edlin, internationally celebrated percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, former QMUL Music Society President and London Chamber Orchestra Music Scholar Atalanta Hersey, fellow-musician and renowned fortepiano recitalist Professor John Irving (Guildhall School of Music and Drama) and president of the British Otology Society and one of the world’s leading ENT hearing specialists, Mr Chris Aldren.