Interpreting Isolation - Selected Works

6 projects were selected as creative responses to COVID-19, as part of our 'Interpreting Isolation' grants. Over the next 4 weeks we will be premiering these works - discover them here. 

Here at Sound and Music and particularly on the British Music Collection, we feel it is important to capture this moment and create a space to reflect on COVID-19 in a creative way. After a nation-wide call for applications, which saw over 150 responses, we're excited to share the work of the succesful applicants to our 'Interpreting Isolation' grants.

The grant-winners are: Guoda Diržytė (Gong Girl) , Douglas MacGregor with George Ramsay, Tina Hitchens with Sam Francis, The Keeling Curve, Amahla and Sans Soucis, and Koichi Samuels.



  • Douglas MacGregor and George Finlay Ramsay - 'as the world aint square'

"‘as the world aint square’ is a piece with music by Douglas MacGregor and moving image by George Finlay Ramsay. For both artists, the lockdown brought about a stretching of time in two directions: the slowing down and witnessing of nature gradually transform herself, and yet the accelerating of life as days merged into one another and the outward world became consumed through electronic devices.   Drawing on footage from Argyll (including Fingal’s Cave), Perthshire and London shot over the past year or so, George wanted to work with what he had at hand to create something meditative, yet slightly exasperating.  You can see the natural world, but only through a peep hole, a very strict aspect ratio even smaller than your phone or computer screen. Time is counted with both stones and upside down numbers: it's geological and yet an entirely human construct.   The inspiration for the music came from the Silentium movement in Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa. The sole sound source for the piece is a single electric guitar played and recorded alone in a church building. The piece starts at a meditative and unsettled point, peering into the desolate stillness of the isolation of inner experience. Time ticks, yet is elongated and warped within the layers of reflective reverberation."

Find out more about Douglas MacGregor and George Finlay Ramsay here


  • Gong Girl - Still There

"Still There is simply an output of my feelings and reflection of overall mental state during complete self-isolation. This project started with me questioning how quarantine and self-isolation would work without the social technology we have now? In order to explore that, I decided to deprive myself of such privilege and isolate myself for 7 days without any access to the outside world (no social media connections with friends and family, no walks outside my living space, no entertainment such as movies or video games). Within this time I tried to make music, take daily auto portraits, and write a short diary that reflects how I feel. I believe that Art is worthless in the face of life and death. This is very much visible in our current reality. But instead, it portrays life and death. It best reflects on the time that we live in." 

Read Gong Girl's Project Diary here

Find out more about Gong Girl here



  • Tall Trees - Leave No One Behind

"Tall Trees is the name of Koichi Samuels' new project bringing together audiovisual art, electronic music and a diversity of voices affirming life. 'Leave No One Behind' is an audiovisual work, the first under this project, commissioned by Sound and Music, and made in collaboration with video artist Dervla Hillan. The music is an electronic composition, with the voices, perspectives and ideas of young musicians from Junior Academy of Music, Belfast, Northern Ireland woven in. Instrumental recordings of the pupils can also be heard embedded in the piece.

The title is taken from the motto of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, which is a global agenda to reduce inequalities and achieve sustainable environmental, economic and social development around the world by 2030. The piece takes its inspiration from this motto as well as containing a recited passage from an article titled 'The Pandemic is a Portal' by the author Arundhati Roy and ends with a quotation from peacebuilders Dr. Daisaku Ikeda and Nobel Peace Laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel. These ideas and words were used to frame this piece of participatory music and to engage with young people.

The music, the voices, and the visuals combine in an explorative piece on what can be achieved beyond isolation and the pandemic, from the perspectives of young people, and with hope for the future."

Find out more about Tall Trees here

  • Tina Hitchens and Sam Francis - High Tide

"Drawing upon water as a source of inspiration and as a metaphor for the Covid 19 situation, Tina Hitchens based in Bristol and Sam Francis in Weston Super Mare met virtually over two weeks to connect their separate locations through different water sources - the WSM coast and the River Frome in Eastville, Bristol that both conjoin with the Severn Estuary. At the changing times of high tide they met virtually to observe, listen, look, meditate on and respond to the connecting pull of the water, the environment and surroundings to connect creatively and personally as a lifeline during these uncertain and disconnected times. This piece is a montage of material gathered during these outings and a reminder that flow and continuity will always be present and can close the space between us as the space between us all widens."

Find out more about Tina Hitchens and Sam Francis here



  • The Keeling Curve - Mersey Beat

"The piece uses sounds sent to us in April 2020 from around the UK, from people's 'daily exercise' during the Covid-19 lockdown. We also use recordings from our own walks along the River Mersey. These sounds are interwoven with pulsing synthesizers and a violin solo reminiscent of the English pastoral tradition." - The Keeling Curve

Photo of the River Mersey by Lawrence Dinh. Artwork from collage by Katherine Jack 

Find out more about The Keeling Curve here

  • Amahla & Sans Soucis - Mind the Gap

"Mind The Gap - harvesting connection beyond social distancing. Sans Soucis and Amahla meet in the middle to create a soft lullaby for who needs to be comforted by music and empathy, in a time of separation. Joined by visual artist Sara Pozin, they tell us a story of growth amid an unsettling scenario that sees London deprived of its brightest colours: people"

Find out more about Amahla & Sans Soucis here 


Find out more about all the winners here and stay tuned for another winners announcement next Tuesday!

There are 1000s more composers to discover in the collection - find out more here! 

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