2016 Hide In the 5th – Audition Piece

Hide in the 5th is a short piece that won me a commission with Sound and Music to work with the talented Caitlin Shepherd on her experience piece at Somerset House in London, Discord.

The title of this piece comes simply from taking refuge in the sound of a perfect 5th.

Discord aimed to provoke a dialogue about the housing market and the notions around owning a home in the current economic climate.

The piece takes city sounds, and weaves them into a musical narrative that uses the falling minor third of a train horn as it’s key feature. A forlorn sound that represents the isolated feeling that can creep in when alone in a busy city, embodying the stress and pressure of the rat race.

Earlier iterations of this work included a string trio to develop the melodies from the beginning, the possibility of which I would love to explore further. The cityscape is twisted and wrangled into digital noise by which I mean to represent the grittiness that can be experienced by commuting – bringing the worst out in people, too tired, and desperate to be at their destination rather than the limbo of travel.

Halfway through, the piece changes, bringing in a more positive sound and timbral/melodic range. The use of perfect fifths is introduced in this section – established to be the most consonant interval after the octave, since Pythagoras determined the note ratios to be whole integers. The 5ths aim to bring in a therapeutic element, as they are often found in drone music, used for meditation and mindfulness exercises to combat stress. Hide in the 5th comes into focus right at the end, when we are left with repeating 5ths, as a droning prayer but also a sense of hope.

This work was inspired by various bus journeys through London – surrounded by luxuries that are ridiculous when juxtaposed with the lack of the necessities, such as humans’ most basic need: shelter. Looking at my fellow travellers, mostly wearing headphones, I imagine everyone trying to find shelter in their own perfect 5th, their own sonic cocoon.