Open House: What do sounds look like?

by Rachel Cook

At last week’s Open House we asked the charming Jacob Thompson-Bell to show us what sounds really look like, and happily he complied. Wondering what went down? Read on…

  • Jake is a creative producer, composer and musician, not to mention PhD tutor at Leeds College of Music, so naturally this Open House was particularly noisy. More of that please.

    Particularly interesting though was hearing about Jake’s work with graphic scores. This is a composition discipline where the composer eschews traditional notation and instead uses graphics or pictures to instruct musicians on what to play. Except ‘instruct’ isn’t really the right word; it’s more about suggesting to them a sense of what they want to get across. For Jake this is usually inspired by the sounds and feelings of a particular place or event (for example we had stories of his time as Artist-in-Residence at Somerset House as well as over at Bramley Locks in Leeds).

  • This approach turns on its head the typical relationship between composer and musician; typically the composer dictates what he or she is trying to convey and the musician brings to life their vision. Jake’s approach is more about providing a framework for the musicians that he works with to bring their own creativity and give their own version of the story. It’s exciting and unpredictable for Jake and listener alike.

    It was something that most of the room knew very little about so he had quite the interrogation, but took it like a champ – thanks Jake! Don’t forget to check out Jake’s website for more information.

  • Thank you
    Thanks again to Jake, East Street Arts for hosting and to everyone else who came along. We had some cracking questions this time, so thanks for that as well, you did me proud! If you’ve not had chance to make your own sounds, have a play:

    PS The next Open House will probably be at the end of August. Just drop us a line by any means necessary if you’d like to come along.

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