Commission Counterflows 2022

Tom Mudd & The Gorbals Youth Brass Band

The Gorbals Youth Brass Band
Tom Mudd

When we asked composer Tom Mudd to work with The Gorbals Youth Brass Band to create a new work in collaboration for the festival we thought it would be an exciting opportunity to also create a short film about the process behind the collaboration. We asked artists and filmmakers Duncan Marquiss and Kimberely O’Neil if they would be up for the challenge. Through 4 or 5 rehearsals and the final performance on the opening night of Counterflows 2022 Duncan and Kimberely have created a wonderfully intimate reflection on the project highlighting through the voices of the young people involved and Tom the very nature of collaboration.

This project brings together a real brass band and a physics-based simulation of a brass band.

The Gorbals Youth Brass Band are master synthesists: they coax and shape a range of tones, textures, blasts and percussive sounds by propagating pressure waves through a collection of pipes, all set in motion by vibrating their lips against a metal mouthpiece. With these absurd brass synthesisers, they navigate a labyrinth of metastable states through chaotic turbulence, coupled resonances, and other nonlinear phenomena.

The NESS Brass synthesis environment digitally simulates many of these behaviours, with instruments of arbitrary size and shape that can be played with settings for breath, lips, and valves. My work with this environment is necessarily experimental as I don’t have the skill, insight or experience that the band have into how to navigate the eddies and flows within the instruments. This opens up a perhaps even more bizarre way of making music: writing algorithms that attempt to play these algorithmic simulations of already complicated musical instruments. The results spill across the gulf between algorithmic computer music and brass band playing.

The band and the software are connected through a series of rituals that attempt to foreground this complexity and absurdity.

Tom Mudd, 2022