V&A Dundee

Architecture soundtracks revealed with MSCTY

Two pieces of music commissioned to respond to the architecture of V&A Dundee, both inside and outside, have been revealed today (Friday 27 August) in partnership with MSCTY.

Japanese composer and percussionist Midori Takada has created a soundtrack to the inside of the museum, inspired by natural materials chosen by Kengo Kuma and focusing on the wooden panels surrounding visitors when they enter V&A Dundee’s main Locke Hall. This is her first commission in Scotland.

Midori Takada plays huge marimbas, creating sound from wood. She is a pioneer of ambient music and met with Kengo Kuma to discuss his architectural vision as part of her musical research. The new composition is a celebration of creative forces joining together, creating an atmosphere to be shared with everyone welcomed into the museum.

A new composition by Dundee-based artist and musician SHHE will play in the museum’s archway outside. Based on the sounds of the water around V&A Dundee, with the music reacting to the movement of the pools and the tides, the piece is inspired by the rugged exterior of the museum architecture and its location by the River Tay.

The soundtrack invites and encourages visitors and passers-by to experience V&A Dundee in a completely new way, gently guiding their attention to the natural sonic environments present in the plaza space around the museum. SHHE worked with artists and designers Tommy Perman and Simon Kirby to realise this ever-changing piece of music which interacts with light, weather and movement.

The soundtracks are available to hear at V&A Dundee at set times each day, as well as on the MSCTY website at www.mscty.space/project/mscty-x-vam-dundee

Midori Takada’s composition will be played at 10.00 and 15.15 each day inside the museum for 90 minutes, while SHHE’s installation will play in the archway beneath V&A Dundee from 16.00 to 23.00 each day. The project runs until spring 2022.

Nick Luscombe, Founder and Creative Director of MSCTY, said: “I’ve spoken to Kengo Kuma several times about his architectural vision for V&A Dundee and always wanted to connect this to the very best composers and musicians.

“To work with both Midori Takada and SHHE to create architectural soundtracks for the museum is hugely exciting, as is making a musical connection between Scotland and Japan in the same way that the building represents a link between Scottish nature and one of Japan’s most remarkable architects.

“The inside and outside of V&A Dundee feel so different but are still linked, still connected. Through this music I want visitors to look again at the museum, to pause and enjoy it in a completely new and different way.”

Artist and musician Su Shaw said: “I’ve always been fascinated by the River Tay and V&A Dundee’s relationship with the water. Over the last year I’ve been thinking about how my surroundings have played a part in influencing and shaping the work that I create.

"During lockdown I would visit the museum every night as part of a walking route. The project with MSCTY provided an opportunity to explore alternative ways to experience the museum, using the constantly changing sounds present there, guiding people’s focus towards the natural environment.

"The composition that visitors will hear has been created using the natural water sources around the museum, triggered by weather data and tide levels, as well as the motion of ripples in the pools and of people passing through the space.

"The concept behind the installation was inspired by impermanence, the idea that everything is always changing, lasting only for a limited period of time. Tommy Perman, Simon Kirby and I worked together to develop and build an installation that would reflect and respond to the constant changes in the space, so that every listening encounter would be unique. We wanted to find a way to work in collaboration with the environment, instead of in competition.”

Becca Clark, Project Curator at V&A Dundee said: “Audio and architecture are intrinsically linked. The sonic experience of any space is part of how we react to being present in a place.

"The opportunity to work with MSCTY has been incredible, drawing on Kengo Kuma’s design for the museum and the influence natural materials and the Scottish environment played in many of the choices in the architecture of V&A Dundee.

“Although both Midori Takada and SHHE worked individually, their collaboration with the building blends to form a fascinating shared approach to working with sound and space across geographies and generations.

“Inviting visitors to be sonically guided around the museum, inside and out, is a new aspect of programming for the museum. Thinking about architecture, materials and the way that our movements impact the way sounds travel in a space can reconnect us to being present in those spaces.

“As we begin to venture out as COVID restrictions ease, it feels wonderful to be able to offer a new experience for visitors both to the museum and to those visiting the surrounding spaces outside museum hours.”

MSCTY is the leading global agency for music and architecture, and explores new ways to experience the world through sound and space.

Since 2010 MSCTY has pioneered a new approach to placemaking and sonic interactions with locations across the globe. Working with leading sound artists and musicians over that time, MSCTY has produced over 300 site-specific tracks. They bring people to places, improve experiences of spaces, and create immersive worlds of sound.

MSCTY was founded by London- and Tokyo-based BBC broadcaster, radio producer and sound collector Nick Luscombe, whose music presenting includes much-loved Late Junction programmes on BBC Radio 3 and the long-running Flomotion / New Ratio radio shows which he has expertly selected for over 20 years. He also currently presents weekly live radio shows at new innovation startup hub, CIC Tokyo.

The project at V&A Dundee is supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.