Making of Maps

Making of Maps (electroacoustic music for dance, 1992)

A collaboration with choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh, commissioned by the Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company.

From the beginning of the project, Shobana wanted me to create a music which would suggest, very strongly, a sense of place - an English city - and at the same time the experience of an Indian person living in Britain. It was to be a continuous piece, running for just over 30 minutes, and I was to compose something from which other, complete, previously composed music could emerge seamlessly (the music of the South Indian composer and singer, R.A. Ramamani).

The music for Making of Maps, then, contains a huge range of sonic material. At one extreme is everyday life, at the other is Ramamani's music: first the driving rhythms of Saveri and later the more tranquil Keervani. The music moves between these extremes along imaginary paths.

We travel from reality (recognisable sounds) through surreality (unrecognisable, or imaginary sounds and environments) to abstraction (musical instruments). We move from the world we inhabit (the city, conversation overheard, snippets of music heard through doorways) to a world we observe (the performance, the sounds of the dancers' feet, the musicians rehearsing, the dancers' spoken introductions to the dance). We shift between driving drum rhythms, through "found" rhythms of the environment and city turmoil to the absolute stasis of the tanpura's drone; from material with a tangible sense of pulse to sections with no pulse - flowing textures where sounds float to the surface, merge and disappear; and spatially, too, between stasis and energetic movement.

There are soundscapes which seem predominantly "Indian" (voices, film music, tabla), and others which are very "English", and the whole is characterised by animated collages which constantly suggest a new sense of place and space. These textures are the map upon which the clearly defined rhythms of the dance imprint distinct routes.