Here is the second in the series of pieces connected with the SCEN Music project.

Sacred Voices

The title Sacred Voices,  was suggested by the use of and manipulation of sound materials which are considered to symbolise religion, culture, or species. The piece was composed mainly from material that had been recorded during a research trip to China in May, 2013. Much of the material was derived from a rare opportunity to record Giant Pandas in their enclosures at the Dujangyan Panda Reintroduction Centre, alongside a recording made in Xi’an of monks singing in a Buddhist Temple and carts being driven up hutongs in Beijing. These sounds (voices) are explored in a manner straddling on the very edge of real and unreal sound worlds and act as expressions or traces of place or moments in time.  

Sacred voices attempts to convey the idea of a series of momentary structures and forms experienced in space and time.  Throughout the work, sounds are presented as ‘moments’ in time and, space- the source of which is left up to the listener to imagine.  These moments are then expanded and explored throughout the piece- with each idea being mined for potential developments. The idea for this derived from my fascination with the manipulation of  field recordings, but also with sound design and spatialisation, both within the concert hall, and in a piece itself.

Along with 我們的歌 (Our Song), this work forms a collection of acousmatic works exploring sounds recorded in China in May, 2013 as part of the SCEN Music Project( In contrast to 我們的歌 (Our Song), where the sounds presented clearly provided a sense of place and culture, I wanted to carry out a manipulation of some of the same sound material, but without forcing any expectation of a particular place or culture onto the listener. In this piece, the manipulation of source material through both space and time was central to my train of thought. 

Sacred Voices was composed from December, 2013 to January, 2014 in the studios of De Montfort University (Leicester, England, UK). The work was commissioned by Reinhard Fuchs and Forum Liverpool with support from Scotland China Education Network, University of Aberdeen Confucius Institute and De Montfort University Confucius Institute. Special thanks to John Young.


Here is the first piece of music created from sounds recorded in China-May 2013.


我們的歌 (Our Song) was written upon return from my second trip to China in May 2013. On this occasion I visited Beijing (Peking province), Xi’an (Shaanxi province) and Chengdu (Sichuan province).

During my previous trip to Shanghai in 2011, I suffered from an aural and visual culture shock. The sheer size of Shanghai and the way of life there stunned me. As a result of this, I had a number of preconceptions as to what I would hear and see this time around.

However, I was pleasantly surprised when I found that I was able to fully embrace Chinese life. What I discovered was a massive variety of culture, colour, music and lifestyle, along with some surprising similarities to Scottish tradition.

This work follows on from my previous work ‘Culture Shock’ (2011) and explores expectation of place- how one can have preconceptions of a particular place through sound. The sound of bikes zooming down tiny hutongs may for some, remind them of a particular place, or, of a past memory of a place. A particular experience may also be associated with particular aural memories or sounds, and this is what I aim to explore through this piece.

我們的歌 (Our Song) was commissioned by Scotland China Education Network and the University of Aberdeen Confucius Institute. It was composed in the studios of Music, Technology and Innovation Research Centre, De Montfort University between June and July 2013.

It will be premiered on a future date in Scotland.

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