Rare as a Green Dog

Sound and Music

Honouring and highlighting some composers in the British Music Collection and beyond that dare to be rare. Rare as a Green Dog has been curated by Caro C for Sound and Music. Caro C is an artist, engineer and facilitator in sound currently based in Manchester, UK. Often accused of being unique and experimental, a Spanish friend once described her as "más rara que un pero verde" (rarer than a green dog) which she decided was a strength. Her third album "Everything Gives to Something Else" was released in May 2016.

Janet Beat (born 1938) is considered one of the pioneers of electronic music in UK. She creates using tape, synthesisers, effects and acoustic instruments such as this unusual looking cover of the score of 'Dreamscapes', a piece for bassoon & tape.

"Such Nights I Get All The Free Margins" by Amber Priestley - score detail. For percussion and office equipment. I love the rare instrumentation and quirky illustrations. To hear a performance of the piece you can visit: https://soundcloud.com/amber-priestley/such-nights-i-get-all-the-free

I found the intricacies and complexity of Trevor Wishart's graphic scores most impressive in this oversize handwritten score for "Anticredos"(1980). I was simply in awe of the time, dedication and creative vision that must have been involved. Graphic scores have a particular magic for me as the players become co-creators and surely have more responsibility and freedom of expression as they perform these personal maps with curious keys.

"AntiCredos" (1980) by Trevor Wishart score detail 1

"AntiCredos" (1980) by Trevor Wishart score detail 2.

I couldn't help but be struck by the quite beautiful visual element of Gavin Bryars "Mr Sunshine"(1968), a looped piece of indeterminate duration for piano(s).

"Mr Sunshine" by Gavin Bryars score detail.

The humour in the illustrations of Stephen Montague's "Horn Concerto" (1998) tickled me. This seems like a radical action in a world steeped in conventions, formality and protocols.

"Horn Concerto" (1998) by Stephen Montague score detail.
The lengths these composers went to in order to express their creative visions they must have taken seriously whilst also playing with the ridiculous.

And look at the little face with the balloons! "Horn Concerto" (1998) by Stephen Montague score detail.

Electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire (1937-2001) definitely dared to be rare. She described herself as the one fish swimming the other way from the rest of the shoal. Delia made this sublime piece of ambient music in 1967 by turning her voice into a "castrated oboe" (her own words) and studying the harmonics of a green metal lampshade, said to be her favourite instrument.

Daphne Oram (1925-2003) also pioneered electronic music in the UK and created her fascinating "Oramics Machine". Her book An "Individual Note" which is quoted here is a gem of charismatic talk of music, electronics and much more.

"Red Bird" (1973-77) by Trevor Wishart, cover page of score. For me, the hand drawn/handmade aesthetic adds to the non-commercial, individual and somewhat subversive nature of these experimental composers.

"Red Bird: A Political Prisoner's Dream" by Trevor Wishart.

I generally like mass musical experiments and often see in my work as a music facilitator that people who might not consider themselves artists or musicians have so much of value to give and express. New Voices composer Bobbie-Jane Gardner set up an ambitious project in Birmingham with composers truly collaborating with communities.

And finally, my contribution as a rare dog: "Audient, My Dear" (2013) for electronics, voice, effects, ping pong ball & ruler. A creative response to the Delia Derbyshire Archive commissioned by Delia Derbyshire Day with visuals by Kara Blake using clips from her award-winning documentary "The Delian Mode". Do check that short film out if you haven't seen it and look out for more Delia Derbyshire Day events, workshops and commissions of new works inspired by Delia's fascinating archive.

Credits: Story

"Más rara que un pero verde", rarer than a green dog, was how a Spanish friend described Caro C. The concept (and visual image) charmed her. It seems only fair to champion those that dare to be rare, those that jeopardise popularity and commercial success in order to do what feels right and authentic to them.

The artists exhibited here are at least a little bit radical, breaking or at least flexing conventions and even making political statements with their music making methods and musical outcomes. There seems to be a sense of humour imbued in these ernest yet often quirky works. The visual aspect and expression seems important too.

Rare as a Green Dog has been curated by Caro C for Sound and Music. Caro C is an artist, engineer and facilitator in sound currently based in Manchester, UK and often accused of being unique and truly experimental. In May 2016 she released her third album "Everything Gives to Something Else".

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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