Creating the soundscape

After a rain-soaked day at Dartington, we successfully installed the work in the Space gallery as musicians arrived for the Summer School throughout August.

We wanted people encountering the installation to feel as if they were looking inside Menuhin’s violin and hearing its memories. It was going to be impossible to ‘sum up’ Yehudi Menuhin’s life. So much about his life and work has been extensively researched and documented already. Instead, it was about capturing a sense of a resonance of his life and its impact on people today. I also wanted to include the kind of things the violin would remember: Sounds of being built, tuning up, reverberating notes, snatches of pieces played, overheard conversations.

I chose phrases from our interviews with Joanna (archivist at the Royal Academy of Music) and Zamira (Menuhin’s daughter) that could also be interpreted as the violin itself speaking, remembering the places it was taken and “the connection we had together”.

The installation is about memory, how it flits back and forth across time, catching, repeating and altering fragments of the past. The soundscape includes the scrapes and creaks of the violin being made, alongside conversations with a violin-maker. The violin phrase that Elgar highlighted to represent Menuhin (seen on the outside of the installation) swirls around in different octaves and timbres.

Phrases from the pieces that Menuhin performed are mixed with sounds I collected from our school workshops. These sounds represent Live Music Now and the laughter, excitement and musical creativity of children and adults who encounter Menuhin’s legacy.

Richard Barnard

For information on opening times for the installation see our visit page.