Songs and soundscapes, played by City of London Sinfonia, build on conversations with neurodivergent people to explore their experience and identity.
The piece is based on a series of focus groups with neurodivergent people, and have been produced in collaboration with a neurodivergent steering panel.
The soundscapes weave together musical interpretations of neurodivergent perceptions and experiences with recorded excerpts of voices from the focus groups.
The Divergent Sounds project explores ways in which neurodivergent people’s brains may work differently, and the strengths and challenges that come with being neurodivergent in a neurotypical world.
The discussions and themes that emerged throughout the project were reviewed by dramaturg Jen McGregor and composer Amble Skuse. Divergent Sounds is a collaboration between King’s College London and City of London Sinfonia.
This project is generously supported by the Wellcome Trust.
Working with researchers from Kings College London, Jen MacGregor, Virgina Carter-Leno and I gathered text from interviews and focus groups of Neuro-Diverse people. We then worked through the text, looking for themes and insights which we thought best reflected the group and would be interesting to an audience. The text was then either used in a verbatim soundscape using the original recordings, or cut together into songs for the Soprano to sing.
The music reflects the nature of the words, sometimes glitchy, sometimes repeating, sometimes flowing and sometimes detached. The soundscapes also each have their own character which reflects the subject matter.
The ensemble have ‘improvising games’ to play during the soundscapes, sometimes using musical phrases from the songs (‘NeuroNormality’ is a theme which is then repeated by the clarinet and piano in a soundscape for example). The improvisational aspect of the work reflects Disability theory which allows for a human to be flexible and different on any given day. The musicians – although highly trained to perform – are in this instance allowed to be as minimal or as maximal as they feel, according to the voices that they are listening to.
Stephanie Lamprea plays the role of « Stephanie » in the work. « Stephanie » is a contributor to the interviews, and is on the phone to the researcher. However, she has many many thoughts and feelings about describing her Neuro Diversity, and she shares these with the audience via the songs. She is also wearing Mimu gloves which track her hand movements and allow her to control electronic processing on her voice. This reflects the experience of many Neuro Divergent people when they use their hands or arms to ‘stim’ a process of self soothing using movement or tics. The movement is captured by the gloves and turned into audio in the work, allowing for this physicality to become part of the audio.
Divergent Sounds at QEH
- City of London Sinfonia
- Jack Sheen conductor
- Stephanie Lamprea soprano
- Jen McGregor dramaturg, libretto
- Amble Skuse: Divergent Sounds (World premiere)