The Art of Sound Public Art Music

Public Art Music

The Art of Sound – Public Art Music


The sound track to the “There and Now” Artwork.


Why make a piece of public art music? When observing metal Public Art, you see a frozen form, whether it is a beautiful artwork, or a traditionally made gate. The viewer has missed out on the process of how that piece became what it is from its raw state of steel bars or plate, or possibly recycled metals, by forging and fabricating methods.  This, however, is one of the most exciting parts of the artwork that is overlooked, hidden and forgotten. Perhaps by getting an idea of what it takes to make the finished piece, people would appreciate more the value of the work.  Modern times have created a detachment of people from products and worth through fast economy. The story of origin is forgotten.

When it comes to forging, fire is the principle tool, getting the right heat for whatever process you are preparing the metal for, then forging it, either with hand hammers or power hammers.  This takes craftsmanship to achieve, and a lot of practice to perfect. Likewise, the operation of other equipment in the workshop, such as hydraulic press’s, guillotines, lathes etc, are all interesting parts of the process, with an element of danger attached! Working in a workshop, which is usually quite dark, with all the machines, fires, hammers, presses, welders working; where there are sparks, arc flashes, power hammers chugging, torches roaring – all quite dramatic against the dark background of the work space.

So I decided for one of our big public art commissions, “There and Now”, to include a sculptural QR Code to enable the viewer to have a brief glance into the workshop with all the team who worked on the job, to show a brief moment of what it is like to work in a blacksmiths Forge/workshop and show some of the story of how this artwork came into being.

We needed a public art music sound track to back the video, so I called my friend Ben McCusker, who works as a sound engineer, writes music and a member of the band Deadsilence Syndicate and invited him to the workshop.  He audio sampled most of the tools in the workshop, like the anvil ring (which inspired a piece of artwork, see previous blog post), the 5 CWT (five hundred weight or 250 KG) Massey power hammer, grinders, guillotines, torches etc.

I wanted the public art music to be very contemporary with an industrial futuristic ‘Dubstep’ sound to give it a 21st C feel but also have reference to the ancient craft of blacksmithing.

Ben hooked up with Will Green, a member from his old band, Deadsilence Syndicate, who plays the Cello.  This would be the reference to the ancient craft and the perfect contrast to the Dubstep sound.  This is what Will said about the piece of music:

‘On the day I was due in the studio I woke up and realized I had dreamed a little melody. This never happens to me so I knew I had to use it in the music. I went to my local computer shop to print some documents. The bloke who owns the place was listening to Islamic religious music. I listened to it and recognized that the music was in a different ‘mode’ – or scale – to Western music. In fact, the music of many parts of the Middle East often uses a Phrygian mode. I decided to change my little dreamed melody to this mode.

The tune had now been altered by my contact with multicultural London. In the studio some elements of reggae were introduced to the mix and the whole piece was produced with a UK bass-music flavour. So in the end this public art music is a melting pot of cultures just like London’.


Have a listen and see if you can pick out the workshop tools and equipment in this public art music.

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