“A Tap, a click and a thump” 

Collaborating composers: Sarah Keirle, Nico Garcia-Peguinho

Light and Text artist: Elisa Artesero

With thanks for support and assistance: Guillaume Dujat, Erin Beeston, James Sumner, Move Manchester (dance company), Museum of Science and Industry for replica ‘Baby’/SSEM computer recordings, Coolicon Lighting for my collection of sonorous lampshades.

A Tap, a Click, and a Thump” honours the adventurous ancestors who have come through the University of Manchester over the last 200 years. Commemorating the triumphs, curiosity, struggles, and achievements of many who may or may not have been seen.

The piece is particularly inspired by mathematician/computer scientist/codebreaker Alan Turing and electronic music composer/producer Delia Derbyshire whose legacies are now connected with Manchester. Both Alan and Delia were pioneers in their fields, overcoming obstacles to achieve contributions in maths, computing, AI and electronic music, but neither received appropriate recognition in their lifetime. The music and the text art has been informed by their work, story and legacy.

The title “A Tap, a Click and Thump” refers to Alan Turing’s comment about the sounds the Manchester computer made. Delia Derbyshire composed with tape and ‘musique concrète’ techniques which uses recorded sounds as raw material for making music. For this, we feel Delia would have transformed a tap, a click and thump into music, no problem!

This piece includes lots of somewhat unconventional instrumentation as the worlds of sound and music merge with beauty and tension therein. For example there are Coolicon metal lampshades, which were a “favourite instrument” of Delia’s that she recorded, analysing the harmonic content and creatively manipulating to create her evocative music. Sarah recorded and transformed sounds mace by the replica of the ‘Baby’ or SSEM computer, currently on display at the Science and Industry Museum – this computer makes a lot of click, clunks and drones. Nico has composed rhythmic and melodic elements with Middle-Eastern instruments as well as applying noise based processing in the latter stages of the piece.  Elisa has experimented with a more concrete visual poetry to echo the methods of making by Delia, whilst incorporating binary code, one of the foundations of contemporary life (computers, smartphones, etc.), which is often hidden in plain sight.

PS. For what it is worth (my opinion/position as a European not attached to any religion), I am not carrying on business as usual regarding the horrors in Palestine and the student protests. I have decided I still want to present this piece and honour the adventurous ancestors in this way.

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