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‘Rock’ music inspired by Antarctic research

11 September 2007

Composer Kevin Jones and animator Stephen Bell working on elements of the performance ‘Rock’ music inspired by our research into the geology and the coastline of the Antarctic is ready for its world premiere.

The Antarctic Sonata is an original composition based on geological data drawn from the Antarctic sub-continent. It debuts at the Geological Society’s Bicentenary Conference in London this evening, Tuesday 11 September.

The musical patterns of the Sonata are created by composer and pianist Kevin Jones, Visiting Researcher to BU. These patterns are largely derived from the crystal shapes and textures revealed through imaging rock samples collected by our Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Petford, in the Dry Valleys region of Antarctica.

Jones also derives musical material from the undulating shape of the Antarctic coastline itself, which Professor Petford observes will be influenced by climate change as the ice shelf ebbs over the centuries.

Antarctic rock crystals that inspired the music “The unexpected appearance of what looks like facing profiles in a romantic encounter gives rise to appropriate mood music."

This landscape element is reflected in the composition but it’s the often chaotic jumble of material found in the rock crystals which he has used to suggest associative interpretations.

“For instance, the unexpected appearance of what looks like facing profiles in a romantic encounter gives rise to appropriate mood music,” says Jones.

Dr Stephen Bell, from our renowned National Centre for Computer Animation, has collaborated with Jones to animate the images over three movements of the sonata.

The original compositions will be interspersed with additional geologically related items for piano, including short pieces by Grieg (The Mountaineer’s Song), Webern (Variations 1) and Count Basie (Volcano). Movements from Elgar’s Enigma Variations will also feature. The composer and his wife were both keen geologists and 2007 marks the 150th anniversary of his birth.

“We hope that the performance will stimulate new insights, connections and alternative ways of thinking about structures, dynamic processes and geological relationships,” says Professor Petford.

Listen to the Antarctic Sonata: Related Links:

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