For those who may not have heard of Sonic Bothy Ensemble, Riah Fairweather brings us up to speed on a group of musicians both with and without additional support needs who create, compose and perform together.
Based in Glasgow, Sonic Bothy were the first mixed ability ensemble to be programmed in mainstream music festivals such as GIOfest, Counterflows, and to undertake an artist residency at Sound Festival in Aberdeen. Sonic Bothy’s purpose is to create original experimental and new music. We help support musicians with an additional learning support need to create and learn about this music, and to contribute to sound and music culture in Scotland and beyond. Their voices are often missing and are needed! We create connections, collaborations and opportunities within the music sector, giving musicians the chance to consider whether they want to take their music to professional level.
Last February we launched our debut album, Fields, which is available to listen to on streaming services and to purchase on BandCamp. Creating our first album was a great learning experience. Recording in a professional studio for a week, we captured the work of the ensemble over a number years, and it gave the chance to learn and understand about the recording process, which is so different from the live performing that we usually do. From designing the artwork to the launch party in Mono, the album was a true collaboration that we are really proud of!
Exploring experimental music and sound, we have become known for our eclectic use of instruments and objects There are instruments such as clarinet, piano, and voice, and also found materials such as wooden blocks, water and bricks. We have acquired interesting instruments along the way, such as our beloved – and slightly shaky – harmonium, which was donated to us by the public when taking part in a GOMA project called Atelier Public 2. We also had bespoke glass instruments created by artist Carrie Fertig, an idea from from Ensemble member Adam Green for a piece he wanted to create. Our music really plays with the relationships between the instruments, objects and voice, and the different ways of creating music and sound with each thing. Each member brings their own ideas and musical experiences to the creative process.
It’s our ethos to make all our events as accessible as possible and we always perform in wheelchair accessible venues and our performances are ‘relaxed’ events. We hope people can feel comfortable to come along, even if they have not been to see a live music performance before. There is no etiquette with clapping at certain times etc. so audiences can feel free to relax and enjoy the music. Carers and support workers enter for free to our events, so audience members don’t need to worry about purchasing additional tickets.
If you experience barriers to attending live performance, we may be able to help. Please get in touch with me at Sonic Bothy on: 07916 057504 or firstname.lastname@example.org