Now the choir will give us 'Vrrooom'

FORGET ALL your assumptions about choral music: that it will have a melody, for example, or words. Bill Drummond, musician, artist and one-time member of the band The KLF, is recruiting school pupils to help him compose choral pieces that feature neither tune, harmony nor lyrics.

Mr Drummond, whose novelty single Doctorin' the Tardis reached number one in 1988, is encouraging pupils to compose pieces that use the whistling of the wind, the roar of a JCB or the crunch of ice-cream cones. The only criterion is that the music should be specific to a certain time and place.

"Most young people have some kind of MP3 player," Mr Drummond said.

"They're able to listen to music wherever, whenever. That changes our relationship to the whole body of recorded music. So I've been thinking, what would happen if we woke up tomorrow morning and recorded music had disappeared?"

Mr Drummond wants to create a new concept: music that is only heard by the people participating in it.

"When I'm sitting down to write a score, I'm bringing decades of baggage with me," he said. "Children just accept ideas. There's a freshness to it."

He has invited primary and secondary pupils in the north-east of England to help compose scores for his hypothetical choir, The17 - ideally 17 people, though he adds: "If you've got a class of 30 pupils, you can't ask 13 to leave."

The scores should consist of near-musical sounds that can be heard or imitated by the choir. Pupils at Broadway junior in Sunderland suggested:

"Take 17 people to the garage. Ask The17 to listen to the car and motorbike noises." Or: "Take 17 people to the countryside in July. Listen to the ducks swim in the pond."

John McCabe, Broadway's musical co-ordinator, hoped it would broaden pupils' horizons. "Music can come from different roots," he said. "It's not just the four-by-four beat they hear on Top of the Pops."

Pupils of Bexhill primary, also in Sunderland, suggested: "Gather The17 in the kitchen, then turn the tap on. Start clapping and slapping your feet."

Joy Lowther, the headteacher. said: "Anything that looks at something in a non-traditional way is valuable."


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