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Riding the wave - seeing and feeling music

Riding The Wave is an arts-environmental project aimed at changing the way people perceive both the power of waves and also the fragility of our ocean environments. Waves are rich in scientific interest and rich in artistic metaphor, communicating strongly to us all. The power and intricate motion of waves can be more potently appreciated when heard and felt.

This research explores the movements of rising, falling, changing speed, spreading out, joining together, and eddying realized in sound (using multiple audio speakers) in an immersive experience.

The first phase of Riding The Wave involved the ‘re-mapping’ of this data to the sonic parameters of pitch, volume, spatialisation and audio filtering. Data visualisation will also form part of the experience. My research as a composer has been increasingly seeking ways to bring together three imperative preoccupations, and in so doing reshape the role of the contemporary composer within both his/her professional community as well as in the global context. These are:

  • music which is seen and felt as much as heard,
  • music which directly engages with issues of the environment and the climate crisis, and
  • the innovative synergy of text and music.

The work of Riding The Wave is based on, and utilises the data from, the interdisciplinary research conducted by Catching a Wave(CaW). Extensive 3D digital mapping of actual waves by CaW researchers has enabled the creation of glass wave sculpturesas a mechanism to demonstrate the synergies between art and science. Riding The Wave is, in part, a sonification of these data.

In addition, original poetry from CaW consortium member Lisa Beth Robinson and words generated from conference audiences and stakeholder engagement events will be used in on-going compositions and collaborations between these project teams.

CaW combines expertise in environmental and social sciences with a broad range of arts disciplines in order to engage multiple audiences in discourse around oceans and coasts. CaW aims to ensure that the visualisation and realisation of solutions and pathways to sustainability become more reachable for all, from local to global scales and is a partner in the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

CaW is striving to overcome existing disciplinary divisions across academia and society by forming an equitable and integrated challenge-led collaboration. The collective is a core partnership between scholars and artists based at East Carolina University, Coastal Studies Institute, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University College Cork, and Brunel University London. Brunel’s contact for CaW is Dr Shona Paterson.


Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Colin Riley - Colin Riley's music draws on a range of elements including new technologies, improvisation, song-writing and large-scale classical form. His work is difficult to categorize embodying a genuine integration of stylistic approaches. His recent compositions include ‘Warp and Weft’ a concerto for 2 cellos (for Gabriella Swallow and Guy Johnston), ‘In Place’ (collaborating with 7 contemporary writers and singer Melanie Pappenheim), ‘Made 2 Resonate’ (a set of multi-sensory pieces), and ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ for Ensemble Bash. He is currently writing a violin concerto for Phillippa Mo, an orchestral work for the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, Sweden as part of their ‘Sustainable Music’, and creating a sonic installation with the research group ‘Catching A Wave’. As well as releases on labels such as NMC, Metier, and Naxos, Colin also runs his own label Squeaky Kate with regular new albums each year. His latest release was ‘In Place’, with a new album of choral music due out in 2020. Colin also creates work for his own two groups, the Homemade Orchestra and MooV, where he is composer and performer/director. Moov’s latest album ‘Here’ was recently described as ‘utterly unclassifiable’ (London Jazz Blog), and ‘criminally underexposed’ (Jazz UK). Colin’s work has been performed by many of the UK’s leading music performers and groups including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Manchester Camerata, Smith Quartet, Gareth Davies, and Piano Circus. He has collaborated with diverse artists in the last few years including an album with drummer Bill Bruford, ‘Skin and Wire’ and two theatre projects ‘Nonsense’ and ‘Centrally Heated Knickers’ with the poet Michael Rosen. He is a Senior Lecturer at Brunel University London, and has been a mentor for the Making Music’s Adopt A Composer Scheme since 2001. He writes a regular blog about composing called Riley Notes and his music is published by Composers Edition.

Project last modified 14/07/2021