Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival 2017

VOICE 2.0 offers a glimpse of how musicians, scientists and linguists are re-inventing voice through an ambitious programme exploring new means, forms and usages of voice in communication and musical creativity.

It will premiere new compositions by Plymouth University composers and guests, including the world premiere of a concert for a beat-boxer with an orchestra in her mouth - Butterscotch - a choir of real and virtual singers, and a fully-fledged invented language, created specially for the festival by David J. Peterson, the inventor of the Dothraki language for the Game of Thrones series.

Voice 2.0

Ever since the dawn of humanity, voice has always been our primary source for communication. Our ability to evolve sophisticated verbal languages distinguishes us from other species but voice also transmits other kinds of emotional and social information in ways that written words are not able to transmit. And of course, let us not forget the undeniable expressive power of the singing voice. 

Paradoxically, voice seems to be losing ground to other means of communication. One might say that new communication technologies are to blame. For instance, back to the invention of silent cinema people realized that pictures could speak a thousand words. Indeed, this trend became entrenched in our society today: notwithstanding the fact that we can record voice with our mobile phones, people generally prefer to take photographs instead. Movies now combine audio and vision, but voice is often regarded as the poor cousin of image. More disturbingly, recent studies on usage of mobile phones have shown that texting has taken over making voice calls in the USA and in most of Western Europe. 

What is happening? Is voice becoming obsolete? Is technology really to blame here? Or would it be the case that voice, as we used to know it, is going through an upgrading process to be able to express matters of the present times?


The composers involved in the Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music festival 2017 include: 

  • Eduardo Reck Miranda,  Professor in Computer Music at Plymouth University, where he leads ICCMR and is co-director of Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival
  • Simon Ible,  previous Director of Music of Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University and Artistic Director and Conductor of Peninsula Arts Sinfonietta, previous co-director of Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival
  • Alexis Kirke,  member of the Plymouth University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research and is composer-in-residence for Plymouth University’s Marine Institute, award-winning composer and filmmaker
  • David J. Peterson, one of the world's most famous language creators
  • Linas Baltas, Lithuanian composer who has created 11 new compositions over the last few years with premieres in England, USA and Lithuania
  • Núria Bonet, PhD student at ICCMR and composer of electroacoustic and instrumental music
  • Butterscotch, professional beat boxer and finalist of America's Got Talent in 2007.

Featured research - The Voice of the Sea 

By Nuria Bonet in collaboration with the Marine Institute and the Plymouth Coastal Observatory 

The Voice of the Sea uses information gathered by a marine buoy in real-time to determine compositional choices. Parameters such as wave height, period, direction, water temperature, and so on will directly influence musical parameters. Surrounded by speakers, the listeners will be immersed in an extended and real-time marine sonic world.

Featured research - Come Together: The Sonification of Lennon and McCartney

By Alexis Kirke

2017 is the 60th Anniversary of McCartney meeting Lennon. With the help of science, this performance provides a new insight into their relationship. Computer algorithms are used to analyse the emotions of all of their lyrics, and the results are turned into a classical duet. Each singer will express the emotion of one of the iconic songwriters.

Watch the incredible skills of Butterscotch in this video...

American beat-boxer, Butterscotch, featured in the 2017 Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival Gala Concert.