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Dissonant States

Dissonant States (2014) is a sonification of collated data relating to democracy in 164 world states. The data is used to generate a live score for the performing musicians and an accompanying electronics part.

The piece plays on the idea of coupling social dissidence and musical dissonance by producing more dissonant pitch sets for states rated as more democratic – following the idea that a greater diversity of social view points and political dissidence is permissible within states with greater citizen freedom. The greater complexity of democratic vs. autocratic political systems is also portrayed through the use of larger pitch sets for more democratic countries.

Finally the idea of improvisation as a democratic form of music is played on with players free to improvise around pitch sets relating to democratic states whereas autocratic states have a number of often conflicting performance directions which should be adhered to as accurately as possible during the sections relating to those countries.

An accompanying electronics part consists of granulated sine tones of the current pitch set serves as a static backdrop to the players’ improvisations – a reminder of ever present governmental structures, even in the most democratic states.

Dissonant States was premiered in June 2014 for Flute, Bass Clarinet and Piano, however the instrumentation is flexible and the piece can be realised for any group of 3-4 instruments which cover a large pitch range.


8th July 2015 / ICAD2015, MUMUTH, Ligeti Hall, Graz, Austria / Dissonant States / Schallfeld Ensemble

21st June 2014 / E7B Sound Lab, Klang Festival, Durham University / Dissonant States / Ensemble 7 Bridges


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