Robert Harrison

Master of Music

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NB. Views and opinions of students in the degree show are their own and do not represent the views of the University.


My music practice has taken various forms of musical expression moving between sonic art experiments, jazz and beat poetry and indie rock. It could be said that even in my beginnings as an indie rocker I would embrace elements of avant-garde practice in my work.The music I’m producing at the moment is a hybrid of styles from improvised piano sounds to field recordings.  I seek to provoke a set of emotional responses in the listener rather than presenting a series of skill sets, intent on displaying some kind of musical dexterity . 

The piano I play in “Birds with bleeding eyes are falling from the sky” is completely out of tune and so the notes I choose are not dictated by musical reference points. The out of tune piano evokes a warped sense of memory similar to the ideas of Freud’s Uncanny, something that is strange yet also familiar. I have also added a series of field recordings of various unrelated sounds – doors shutting, birds, street  communications, and snippets of conversation. These seemingly unrelated sounds turn the  musical experience into a sensory experience, the listener floating in and out rather than listening to slabs of constructed sound. Through that, hopefully the music becomes part of the listener’s overall environment .

Track 2 was originally an instrumental piece that I had recorded live in a bar in Bristol. I played the bongos (in true beat style) and my friend Chris played sax. The repeated riff has certain hypnotic elements to it giving an impression of otherness, of losing yourself in a kind of decadent gothic reverie. The guitar transcription by Chris manages to keep the atmosphere of the original. I used this as a background to the spoken word poem which could be described as beat in its structure and style. This was a form of poetry that became popular after the Second World War taking in elements of transgression and Anarchy, Surrealism and Existentialism.

The character in the poem feels disconnected from their surroundings both in the environment and their social interactions.

The character wanders around as though in a dream as different events occur.