Reviews and comment from the Demon Crew - creative writers at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Technology, jar lids and experimental music

It has been nearly a year since Richard Orton, electronic and experimental musician extraordinaire, passed away. So on Thursday 20th February, his life and works were commemorated at DMU, with featured speakers and performers performing both his and their own experimental pieces.

But what is experimental music? When I did my music GCSE, I never really understood it. We were taught that it was basically composers using sounds rather than notes, reading from a score made up of pictures and symbols. To me at the time, it just sounded like noise.

Yesterday’s event, “A life in Music: Richard Orton in Memoriam” showed me otherwise. I knew it wasn’t going to be regular music in the strictest sense when I saw the performers’ main instrument: jam jar lids that, when tapped or clicked in a certain way near an open mouth, actually make an impressive percussion sound.

But there was more than that. A simple mix of the above percussion, vocalisations similar to those used in beatboxing made for a highly original performance with scratched or looped electronic sounds coming and going in waves.

To finish with, speakers Archer Endrich, Andrew Bentley and DMU’s John Richards performed Orton’s classic music theatre work “Mug Grunt”. At first glance, it was just plain weird. Three men synchronically grunting and moving mugs? But it’s unique rhythms and the sheer expression and complexity behind the whole event showed me one thing: Music is more than just notes. 

Grace Liu

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