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The University of Southampton
MusicPart of Humanities

Grant for New Work by Southampton Composer

Published: 31 May 2019
Ben Oliver

Pythagoras’s Toolkit, led by Ensemble Paramirabo (Montréal) and involving Music’s Benjamin Oliver as co-creator, composer and conductor, has been awarded 45,000 CAD (£25,650) from the Canadian Council for the Arts.

Legend has it that when passing a smithy Pythagoras was astonished by the range of pitched sounds he heard as the blacksmiths used different sized hammers to strike pieces of metal, and how in relation to each other some were pleasant, some discordant. When the ancient Greek thinker got home he started experimenting with a plethora of different hammers and metal and over time he began to identity musical intervals and the ratios which produced harmony. These explorations of sound, along with his development of new instruments, was a trigger for him to develop the principle of an underlying order in the natural world – what we now call physics.

In Pythagoras’s Toolkit, Rachel Warr (co-creator/director, Dotted Line Theatre) and Benjamin Oliver will bring to life, through puppetry and live music, a modern-day Pythagoras who will explore sound, space (conceptual/sound/realworld), rhythm, harmony and dissonance (order and chaos), instrument making/design, dance, musical textures and ways of constructing music. Aimed at children from ages 3 to 12 as well as adults and lasting around half an hour, Pythagoras’s Toolkit will encourage the audience to be interested in experimentation, in making mistakes to find answers, and to think about how music is made and can be manipulated in time. The production will feature musicians from Ensemble Paramirabo (Canada), Workers Union Ensemble (UK) and two musically literate puppeteers working with a specially created Pythagoras puppet.

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