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‘Rock’ music inspired by Antarctic research

‘Rock’ music inspired by the geology and coastline of the Antarctic is ready for its debut.

The Antarctic Sonata will be performed at the Geological Society’s Bicentenary Conference in London on Tuesday, 11th September, 2007.

The Sonata is an original composition based on geological data drawn from the Antarctic subcontinent.

The musical patterns created by composer and pianist Kevin Jones, Visiting Researcher to Bournemouth University, are largely derived from the crystal shapes and textures revealed through imaging rock samples collected recently by Bournemouth Professor Nick Petford in the Dry Valleys region of Antarctica.

Jones also derives musical material from the undulating shape of the Antarctic coastline itself which Professor Petford observes will be influenced by climate change as the ice shelf ebbs over the centuries. This landscape element is reflected in the composition but it’s the often chaotic jumble of material found in the rock crystals which he has used to suggest associative interpretations.

“For instance, the unexpected appearance of what looks like facing profiles in a romantic encounter gives rise to appropriate mood music,” says Jones.

Dr Stephen Bell from the renowned National Centre for Computer Animation based at Bournemouth University has collaborated with Jones to animate the images over three movements of the sonata. The original compositions will be interspersed with additional geologically related items for piano including short pieces by Grieg (The Mountaineer’s Song), Webern (Variations 1) and Count Basie (Volcano).

In addition to Jones’s original compositions, movements from Elgar’s Enigma Variations will also feature. Both Elgar and his wife were keen geologists and 2007 marks the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

“We hope that the performance will stimulate new insights, connections and alternative ways of thinking about structures, dynamic processes and geological relationships,” says Professor Petford.

The Antarctic Sonata will be performed at 6.00pm on Tuesday, 11 September in the Churchill Auditorium, at the QE II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.

Charles Elder | alfa
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