Up Down Left Right

Dr Andy Ingamells
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University

The two creative outcomes

CLICK TO PLAY – 3-minute video work created from selected footage of 40 participants who individually conducted the Bristol Citadel brass band for 3-minutes each on 11th March 2017. Audio material was transcribed to make a new score which was recorded in July 2017 and overdubbed onto the video.

CLICK TO OPEN – 42-page artistic book publication that contains photographic documentation of the performance event in March 2017. Each participant conductor's photograph is positioned above the fragment of music that they conducted, in the order the fragments appear in the 3-minute video work. An interview on page 38 outlines the creative process of the piece.

Up Down Left Right was an 18-month practice-based research project (March 2016 – September 2017) that culminated in two creative outcomes:

  • A 3-minute video work
  • A 42-page printed publication

This exposition provides contextual information to support the two creative outcomes.

My intention in this project was to explore alternative ways of being a composer by:

  • collaborating with a performing ensemble that is tied to a specific locality;
  • engaging with the history and traditions of the organisation associated with the ensemble; 
  • including the wider community of that locality as participants in the creative process. 

This provided material for creation of the 3-minute video and 42-page printed publication through an extensive process of selection, re-presentation and re-performance.

On Saturday 11th March 2017 I invited members of the public without prior conducting experience to individually conduct the Salvation Army brass band at the Bristol Citadel in the St Paul's area of the city. The project was made in association with art producers SituationsI engaged with the history of the Salvation Army and the practices and routines of the Bristol Citadel corps, combining this with my knowledge of 20th century experimental and avant-garde musical traditions to create a piece of music shaped by place and locality. By working closely with the Salvation Army brass band and Situations, and sharing ownership of the project with them, I demonstrated an alternative way of being a composer. This was an alternative to the solitary composer who writes a piece in isolation then presents it to the band after it has been written.

In this project the spotlight is passed to the audience so that they can see the effect of their own actions on a piece of music by inhabiting the character of a brass band conductor. The band read the actions of the conductor whilst trying to play their music as best they can. This leads to a situation where both conductor and band are engaged in indeterminate play, almost like directed improvisation. The roles of audience and performer are blurred within the piece. The band is an audience to the participant-conductor, and the participant-conductor is an audience to the band.

Summary of the project

  • I met twice with historian Dr Edson Burton to research the St Pauls community in Bristol, where the Citadel is located.
  • I visited the Salvation Army national archives at William Booth Memorial Training College in London to research The Joystrings, the Salvation Army’s 1960s pop band who once performed Christian music at The Playboy Club in London as part of their evangelical mission.
  • I undertook 15 visits to the Bristol Citadel and joined 5 rehearsals with the brass band, playing tenor horn (an instrument I leaned as a child). The band members pointed out an object to me a table in the Citadel prayer room: an Ikea table that’s been covered in fragments of Salvation Army music that’s been cut up and glued together by members of the church.
  • I joined in with some of the corps’ charitable activities in the local area to demonstrate that I was willing to engage with their work and to meet local people who might have an interest in participating in the project. This was important in order to get the Salvation Army “on side”, because they were initially quite sceptical about working with an experimental composer such as myself.
  • I linked this research to my ongoing research into my creative practice as a composer-performer of experimental music, specifically the history of the Portsmouth Sinfonia and the story of their conductor. The idea to have members of the public conduct the band came through my conversations with Claire Doherty Georgina Bolton at Situations and the band members. It was inspired by my research into the history of St Pauls, the Salvation Army and my knowledge of the history of experimental music. It was also inspired by a well-known Mr Bean sketch that the band members and myself were fond of.
  • I conducted research in the Bristol Citadel archive which contains uniforms, instruments and scores dating back over 100 years. In the archive I found a piece called Our Army Veterans (1923) composed using "fragments of old favourite [Salvation] Army melodies", which led me to consider how Salvation Army brass band music could be fragmented in a performance to create a new piece of work.

Research process

https://youtu.be/jlt33ekuf7w?t=332 (accessed 24 November 2020) – Clip of the Joystrings playing at the Playboy Club. 

CLICK TO ENLARGE – image of me (left) joining a charity fundraising event with Bristol Citadel Corps Captain Gavin Friday (right).

CLICK TO PLAY – 10-second video sketch showing me attempting to play all the instruments in the archive.

CLICK TO PLAY – 1-minute video sketch showing me attempting to musically interpret the table covered in musical fragments.

https://youtu.be/hpJ6anurfuw (accessed 24th November 2020) – audio clip of a track from Portsmouth Sinfonia plays the popular classics (1974).

https://youtu.be/Wra2l6z7sdc (accessed 24th November 2020) – video clip from Merry Christmas Mr Bean (1992).

CLICK TO ENLARGE – Image of Our Army Veterans from the archive.

CLICK TO ENLARGE – Screenshot from Ludwig Van (1970) by avant-garde composer Mauricio Kagel.

Outline of the experience of the event that I designed: The band wait silently in the darkened main hall of the Bristol Citadel. The participant enters to the left of the band and sees a spotlit podium with a large poster on the music stand. When they pick up the baton the band are instantly illuminated by music-stand lights. The participant has 3 minutes in which to conduct the band. After 3 minutes the lights on the band go down and the band fade out to air sounds. The participant is then led out through the band to another door, different to the one they entered through.





CLICK TO ENLARGE –Image showing a text score on the conductor's podium to be read by the participants.

When the conductor makes their first down beat the band tries to play pieces from their usual repertoire as best they can whilst following the participant conductor. Prior to the performance I led three rehearsals with the band in which we devised the following instructions:

The participants were invited to write down their thoughts as soon as they finished the experience. Two selected examples:

"It was strange to build up a connection with the band. I started to feel them respond to my movements. The main connection was trust. It feels empowering and exciting to try something that initially makes you feel uncomfortable." 
Anonymous participant feedback 

"I absolutely loved that! To be 'in command' of a group of musicians is a terrific self-esteem boost and surely has a role in mental health! Big up you for doing this. I’ve always enjoyed the Salvation Army Band even when they woke me up on Sunday morning as a student; to try to conduct them was magic." 
Anonymous participant feedback

The performance event on 11th March 2017

During the day, Georgina Bolton (producer at Situations) and Sergeant Major Keith Paine from the Bristol Citadel corps were interviewed on BBC Radio Bristol’s Saturday morning Show and Tell feature about Up Down Left Right:

"It’s a really beautiful action; a mutual authorship where the band read the participant-conductor, and they’re also partially if not all in control. They’re creating new music together, which is really exciting.”
Georgina Bolton, Situations

"It’s all about building relationships. Someone who’s come in for the first time will surely feel the real warmth of welcome today."
Sergeant Major Keith Paine, Salvation Army

CLICK TO ENLARGE – Image showing me performing on tenor horn with the Bristol Citadel band during the performance event on 11th March 2017.

Making the video and publication

CLICK TO ENLARGE – Scan from my notebook showing transcription notes that I made of the opening of the 'tape piece'. The number 01 means that it is the first audio clip in the 'tape piece'; 02 means it is the second, etc.

CLICK TO OPEN – score for the recording session on July 6th 2017, orchestrated by me from my transcription of the 'tape piece'.

I used the performance event to create a 3-minute video work, choosing the duration of 3 minutes because that was the duration of each participant’s individual experience.

The live experience on March 11th 2017 was like a film shoot. The sanctuary of the Citadel building was blacked out using blackout fabric to cover the windows, and the band set up on the main floor of the sanctuary, where the congregation would normally sit. 

There were:

  • video cameras set up to capture the participants conducting the band (videographer: Sam Irving
  • microphones set up to capture the audio (engineer: Alexander Prince).
  • a photographer (Paul Blakemore) to take still images of participants conducting and portraits of participants.

40 people conducted the band on the day. I took an audio excerpt from each participant's interaction and made a 3-minute 'tape piece' using Garageband. I composed this 'tape piece' empirically, selecting a short musical moment from each participant and arranging these moments in a free order to create a piece of music.

I transcribed the audio from the tape piece by listening to each selected audio clip in order and writing down in my notebook precisely what I could hear.

CLICK TO ENLARGE – Scan from my notebook showing transcription notes from later on in the 'tape piece'. Next to number 39 it can be seen that I have identified that audio clip as being from the third participant on the performance day.

I orchestrated this transcription for brass band to make a score and parts. This score was rehearsed by the band during their weekly rehearsals on 22nd and 29th June 2017 with me conducting and leading the rehearsals. The score was then recorded by the band, conducted by me, on July 6th 2017 during a recording session in the Bristol Citadel.

The next step was to create a video using the footage from the event. I worked closely with the videographer Sam Irving to locate the correct clips that corresponded to the participant's audio files used in the new audio recording. We mixed the new recording with the audio recorded on the day and synchronised this audio track to the video clips to create the final video work.

I made a short score version of the full brass band score, reducing it to four staves to make a publication where each participant's photograph could be placed directly above their extract from the piece (see example below). The names of the participants are listed in alphabetical order on the first page of the publication, in the space that would conventionally be occupied by the composer's name (see page 1 of publication).

CLICK TO ENLARGE – example pages from the 42-page publication, showing photographs of the participants with extracts in short score. The score extracts are taken from the transcribed material in the tape piece and subsequent orchestrated score.

CLICK TO ENLARGE – Screenshot from Garageband showing my work-in-progress on the 'tape piece'. Each participant's 3-minute section arranged in order of performance (down the left-hand side), with automation used to only play a selected section of their performance. 

How the creative outcomes were shared

Dissemination of the creative outputs:

  • An interview on page 38 of the publication outlines the creative process of the piece.
  • The publication, along with the musical score and parts used for the recording, are held in Salvation Army archives where they can be accessed and performed by any of the 2500 Salvation Army brass bands worldwide.
  • Electronic version of publication and video work are available on the Situations website
  • Electronic version of publication is available on the British Music Collection website, a high-profile discovery platform for new music in the UK operated by leading contemporary music organization Sound and Music.


Legacy of the project:

  • Information about the project remains available on the Situations website.
  • Project featured on Art and the Public Realm Bristol website.
  • I wrote about the creative approach in Up Down Left Right in a 2020 article for Sound and Music's online publication The Sampler.
  • The approach honed in this project was used in my later works such as Petting Zoo and Make Each Face A Living Note.
  • The approach was adapted into the Northumberland Space Programme with arts education charity Hand Of, which was profiled on ITV News. In a statement Hand Of said: "[Ingamells'] expertise and performance interests continue to inspire workshops and projects which Hand Of develops for vulnerable children." A statement from teachers said: "working alongside composer Andy  Ingamells has had a notable impact on levels of confidence and soft skills like resilience and teamwork."
  • Information about the project was presented at Collaborations are more refreshing than new socks conference convened by CREATIE research group and CeReNeM – a partnership between University of Huddersfield and Royal Conservatory of Antwerp in 2019 (page 7 of conference booklet).
  • Up Down Left Right was produced by Situations, funded by The Salvation Army and supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation and Bristol City Council (www.aprb.co.uk).

Situations was an arts organisation that operated in Bristol from 2002–2017 directed by Claire Doherty MBE. During that time it was recognised for the international reach and high quality of its work and for the distinctive and surprising ways in which it engaged audiences, reflected in the award of the Paul Hamlyn Breakthrough Award for Outstanding Cultural Entrepreneurs in 2010.