Anamchara – Songs of Friendship

Tickets are now on sale for Anamchara- Songs of Friendship. Words by Alexander McCall Smith. Music by Pippa Murphy. See more here.

Part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme

 Scottish Opera’s new family opera is based on themes of friendship and the ties that bind people together, whatever their age and wherever they make their home. Seven songs symbolising seven different kinds of friendship take you from day to night and through the circle of life – from childhood to teenagers in love and from adulthood to the golden years of life.

Anamchara – Songs of Friendship is written by acclaimed Scottish novelistAlexander McCall Smith and composer Pippa Murphy. A celebration of different cultures, the music features traditional instruments from India and Scotland. The multi-cultural cast of over 100 performers includes young professional singers and musicians from Scotland, India, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Botswana, Scottish Opera’s Connect Chorus and Orchestra, and a community choir made up of children, adults and students from Commonwealth countries, living and working in Glasgow.

«Nachtstrom 67» – Pippa Murphy

I’ll be playing some new pieces and some old at the Gare du Nord in Basel on the 23rd Jan. Looking forward to returning!

Die britische Komponistin Pippa Murphy ist spätestens seit ihrem herausragenden Konzert am dBâle Festival 2010 im Gare du Nord auch hierzulande eine bekannte Grösse der elektroakustischen Musik. Derzeit arbeitet sie als «Artist in Residence» am Schottischen Parlament und schreibt ein neues Stück, das die Raumakustik des Gebäudes sowie auch die Klanglandschaften der politischen Zusammenkünfte thematisiert. Bezugnehmend auf das Jahresthema «Stille» der Hochschule für Musik kuratiert Pippa Murphy für den «Nachtstrom 67» ein Programm mit elektroakustischer Musik und wird ihre neueste Arbeit mit einem mehrkanaligen Lautsprecherorchester uraufführen.

New Opera for the Commonwealth Games 2014 Alexander McCall Smith

Author Alexander McCall Smith to create an opera which will be performed in 2014, as Glasgow gets ready to host the Commonwealth Games.

The Scots writer will pen the words for a work entitled The Friendship Oratorio for Scottish Opera which it is hoped will be performed during festivities surrounding the Games.

Mr McCall Smith will write the words to accompany the music by composer Pippa Murphy. His text will weave in the various stories about friendship from youngsters in the seven countries, who will take part in a series of drama and music workshops.

It will feature 100 young people and emerging artists from seven Commonwealth countries and is based on their stories about what friendship means to them.

The involvement of the author behind the popular No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series was announced by Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop during a visit to a school in Delhi, India where she met 50 young people from the city who will be taking part.

Ms Hyslop said: “I am delighted that at the heart of the Scottish team that is looking to deliver The Friendship Oratorio in 2014 is master storyteller Alexander McCall Smith.

“His libretto will provide the framework for a musical exploration of a unique aspect of human nature: the ability to bond with one another across social, economic, geographical, cultural, sexual, religious and generational divides.

The countries involved in the opera are Botswana, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, India, Australia and Scotland.


See here for more details

Bolted – An Opera for Cello, Voices and Soundscape

3 november 2012, 14:30

(world première)

An opera for voices, cello and soundscape

Music: Pippa Murphy
Libretto and Direction: Ben Harrison
Performers: Angela Hardie, Daniel Keating-Roberts, Robin Mason

In the stable block, three beings are locked in a triangle. Amidst the sounds of shifting hay, and heavy breath, a girl grooms her horse, plaiting the mane, brushing the coat, more sensuous and shimmering than any human skin… The boy, adrift, fascinated by the girl, his eyes locked on her hands as they weave the hair and make all perfect in the stall. But where is his place? The doleful, mysterious eye of the horse, liquid and dark, looks upon the boy and upon the girl. Who will run? Can we lock the stable door after the horse has bolted?

Sounds of the Flow


St Magnus International Festival

In late March 2012 Pippa Murphy visited Orkney to undertake a commission from the St Magnus International Festival to create an installation which would be placed in listening posts around the Scapa Flow area. She worked with all age groups gathering sound and music to take back to her home in Edinburgh and has created a new work from her research and recordings, which captures the essence of the Flow. If you are feeling adventurous you can follow the trail round all the listening stations.
‘On listening to Sounds of the Flow you will be taken on an imaginary sonic journey through the Flow, passing by dialect, poetry, seascapes, currents, topography, tales of old, maps, charts, boats, ferries, aeroplanes and the beautiful landscapes and characters that Scapa Flow bestows.’ Pippa Murphy


Listen here

Part 1 5’06”

Mayfield singers singing music by Pippa Murphy

Dive breathing – Ben

Ian Stout talking about his father in the flow

Jude performing bell at Scapa Flow Visitor centre – Lyness

Burray School – vocal seascape


Part 2 6’01”

All primary school children saying place names in Orkney

Radiant Queen Boat Engine and walkie talkie in Stromness

Kirkwall Grammar School – G drone improvisation

Stromness Academy – Glock and marimba riff

Dog and sea at Skaill bay


Part 3 3’16”

West Mainland Day Centre visitors talking about corncrakes and the war


Part 4 5’06”

Stromness Primary – electronic toy, dialect

North Walls Community School – school breakfast club ambient recording, screws, scelotape

Stromness Academy – vocal drops, fiddle

Cameron Stout – Clapshot poem

KGS – mud splashing, giggle

Orphir Primary – Squeaky door

Emily Turton – Voice and drum

Various locations – Rain, hail, wind, sea


Part 5 7’07”

Hamnavoe arriving and debarking

Stromness harbour – crab unloading (evening), birds (morning)

KGS – junior string orchestra, footsteps


Part 6 2’47”

Stromness Academy – class improvisation

Pam Besant – poem

Fire crackle – Inganess Bay


Part 7 3’58”

Kirkwall Airport – aeroplanes, announcements

Beach walk – Skaill bay


Recording the Parliament – Artists in Residence

We have just had our proposal accepted and after 3 years been given the go ahead to create:

PARLIAMENT A PLACE OF WORK by Zoë Irvine (artist) and Pippa Murphy (composer). A sonic exploration of the Parliament and the people who work there.

See the article in yesterday’s Scotland on Sunday

We wish to approach the parliament building as a subject and a collaborator (made up of many collaborators), listening to it and the processes within and working with sound recordings. Artistically we aim to combine ideas of sonic & musical aesthetics on the one hand and documentary and cultural analysis on the other.

The project proposes a short residency in which we will record conversations with people who work in the building from crèche staff, to cleaners, to committee members and security guards. We will also create a series of workshops for people who work in the building or who are visiting, to create material for the project.

St Magnus Festival – Sounds of the Flow

I have been commissioned to produce ‘Sounds of the Flow’ which will commence with a series of workshops when I will visit Orkney for a week and gather musical, sonic and verbal materials from interactions with people in secondary and primary schools, day centres, residential homes and other relevant groups in order to create a series of installations which will appear during the Festival. These will take the form of listening posts with headphones, which may be encountered at various transport hubs and waiting places around Orkney e.g. the airport, ferry waiting rooms around Scapa Flow, perhaps on NorthLink Ferries and Pier Arts Centre too. It’s planned as a commission with community collaboration and means we can involve a large number of participants of all ages. I will be working with those who can offer some musical input as well as gathering reminiscence, thoughts and history from the participants. We’re hoping to create windows into a variety of places, lives and cultures.

Mr McFall’s Chamber Electronics Project

I’ve been working with McFalls Chamber on this year’s Electronics Project. McFalls, Ben Seal and I have set up home for 3 days in Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, where McFalls are a resident ensemble for 2012. We’ve been working with 3 very different composers after a Call for Works, Louise Rossiter, Amble Skuse and Malcolm MacFarlane. We’ve been exploring the following

  • How can instrumental sounds be augmented and elaborated with electronics?
  • What electronic sounds might work well with instrumental timbre?
  • How can an ensemble perform live with electronic sounds or computers and how can composers score their intentions effectively?

It’s a wonderful space to spend a few days, with a beautiful run out through the countryside, a fantastic ensemble, the one and only Ben Seal and a great cafe with cakes, toasted crumpets, and lots of tea (the coffee wasn’t so great!)

Resonate the Labyrinth – 1000’s attend

Here are a few select photos from the performance of my commission ‘Labyrinth for Mixed Choir and Soundscape‘ in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh on New Years Day. St Giles was transformed into a labyrinth with a huge minotaur at its heart. The Cathedral was filled with evolving soundscapes and bursts of choir. The public queued for a chance to take ribbons from the minotaur without being spotted. It was a great success with 1000’s of people attending!

Thanks to Iain Armstrong (laptop), Lis Murphy (soprano), Judy Brown (alto), Dominic Barberi (bass), Oliver Singleton (barritone), Tom Prichard (minotaur), Mike Sherin (minotaur).

Let’s Play! Resonate the Labyrinth

We had our big rehearsal in St Giles Cathedral for the New Years Day event:

Take on the challenge of the Labyrinth: a twisting sonic journey through St Giles’ Cathedral, with a minotaur at its heart. Can you reach the centre without being spotted? A game of sound, movement and monsters – come along and play, or just listen to the evolving musical score from composer Pippa Murphy.

A minotaur, a labyrinth, an evolving soundscape and a choir..

Come and play! 2-5 New Years day

Go Compose! Red Note Ensemble

Go Compose! is an intensive composition project for young composers aged 13 – 18 who are still at school. It’s a unique opportunity to work with professional composers and musicians to create your own, original piece of music which will be performed in the Red Note Ensemble’s Noisy Night on 22 October as part of the sound festival.

The project will be led by composers Pippa Murphy and David Fennessy with professional musicians from the Red Note Ensemble. There will be additional support from students from the University of Aberdeen’s music department.

Residency at Dance Base Edinburgh

This is an experimental contemporary dance project to find connections between sound and motion using interactive technology. Dancer and choreographer Skye Reynolds has been trying out several ideas since 2010 using various devices with Jung in Jung and I joined them on their residency at Dance Base Edinburgh to lend an ear or two..

The residency was funded by Dance Base Edinburgh and Arts Trust. Matt Collings (MSc Digital Composition and Performance) and Yann Seznec also attended some days of the residency as potential collaborators in the future.

The dancers who were involved in this project through performance and research were Adrienne O’Leary, Clive Andrews, David Aing, Emma Snellgrove, Fiona Jeffries, Tamsyn Russell, Tom Pritchard and Tony Thrills.

Scottish National Trust / SCO / SAM at St Abbs

In May 2011 I delivered a composition and listening programme as part of the St. Abbs Music Project: a joint initiative between The National Trust for Scotland, Sound and Music (SAM), the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO), Scottish Borders Council’s Arts Development Team and Youth Music Intitiative.

The St Abbs Music Project will see the creation of a new music composition by composer Howard Moody that celebrates the significance of the St Abbs Head coastal and marine nature reserves on the stunning coastline of the Scottish Borders.

Sonic Postcards is SAM’s unique national education programme which encourages participants to “open their ears” to explore and compare their local sound environments through the composition and exchange – via the internet – of sound postcards, shared with other schools and members of their community.

As part of ‘pARTicipate’ – a new National Trust for Scotland learning initiative which seeks to engage people with their conservation work – SAM have been working with P6 classes from two primary schools in Eyemouth and Coldingham to explore and capture the sounds of the St Abbs environment over the course of 3 days in May.

Day 1: The project was launched with a site visit to St. Abbs Head, where National Trust for Scotland Property Manager, Liza Cole, and audio artist Pippa Murphy led the group around the cliff tops in search of the perfect recording locations. Pupils captured sounds of the various species of birds that flock to St Abbs, as well as the sea and the stones beneath their feet. The group had a great time, although the windy conditions made recording very challenging!

Day 2: On Wednesday 25th May, Pippa and Sound and Music Learning Producer Natasha Chubbuck were joined by Sandra Morrison from NTS as they returned to Coldingham Primary School for a morning session with the group, exploring listening skills and making more recordings in the classroom.

After listening back to recordings from the trip and hearing examples of individual birdcalls, the P6 group used their own voices to amazing effect re-creating the calls of kittiwakes, puffins and guillemots, as well as the whistling wind. In the second half of the session pupils worked in pairs to create unusual sounds from things they found in the classroom. They made some great recordings that really complimented the audio recordings made on site: who would have thought a pen on a whiteboard could sound so much like squeaking chicks, or a box of pegs like stones crunching on the beach!

After the gales of the field trip, Pippa and Natasha took advantage of the calmer weather and returned to St Abb’s Head that afternoon to make some more recordings of the kittiwakes and guillemots nesting on the sea stacks.

Day 3: On Thursday 26th Pippa, Natasha and Kirsten Hunter, SCO Connect Officer, were back at Coldingham Primary for the final day of the project; creating the Sonic Postcards. After recapping on Wednesday’s sound recordings the class worked with Pippa to create their own class Sonic Postcard (see below).

In the second part of the session the pupils worked in pairs to create their own ‘graphic scores’ using the sounds they had recorded, before creating their own Sonic Postcard compositions using Audacity on the classroom computers. All the children did a great job and it was amazing to hear how different their Postcards were, despite being composed from the same group of sounds. Many of them really told a story through the sounds they used and the arrangements they had made.

In the afternoon the rest of the school and parents were invited to listen to the Sonic Postcards that the P6 students had created – an amazing achievement in such a short space of time!

Following the Sonic Postcards project the children involved will have the opportunity to contribute the sounds they have recorded to the new composition by Howard Moody, which will be performed as part of the SCO’s South of Scotland Tour in 2012.

The City Rings…

I’m working on an engagement project called ‘The City Rings’ which links 4 schools in Aberdeenshire, Belgium, Spain and Denmark. The City Rings is an international project dealing with the exchange of experiences by means of sound.

During the month of October 2010, each partner organisation will work with one or more classes from schools. We intend to collect all data and impressions of the project via a blog, but our aim is also to make these matters interchangeable. The pupils will be able to respond and react to each other’s creations in an audiovisual manner. Later on in the project they will also be able to create their own fictitious city with the citymixer.

Eventually, every class will have created and shared their proper view of their own city in the form of a 1-minute soundscape. They will have followed the same program: observing sound, the principles multi-tracking, writing of a scenario or score and composing with sound.

Four organisations:

Four schools:

Aifoon is an educational art organisation focusing on sound in audiovisual communication. We organise workshops and trainings for children, youngsters, (aspiring) teachers, (ICT-)coordinators, art docents, etc. We offer a number of formats but also organise tailored courses were we actively investigate the artistic and pedagogical opportunities of sound as a poetic medium.

Sound and Music is the UK’s landmark organisation for new music and sound. Our programme combines live events activity, learning and participation opportunities, digital platforms and information resources, and aims to raise the profile of new music and sound in the public consciousness, building support and audiences for challenging and high quality work. The aim of the Learning and Participation team is to develop the engagement of people of all ages, from children to adults, with new music and sound, as audiences, creators and participants.

Sons de Barcelona is a project started by the Music Technology Group of Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, in the context of project freesound.  The goal of Sons de Barcelona is to awake interest in sound, and this is pursued mostly organizing workshops in schools, civic centers, universities, libraries, etc. where we introduce the participants to new ways of thinking and working with sound, and the tools that makes it possible, while using creative procedures.

Portlethen Primary School is in a coastal location in Aberdeenshire, North-Eastern Scotland. Portlethen used to be a small fishing village but it has grown over time and is now has a population of 7,000.

Mobi is a technical school for mobility and movement.  Wispelberg is a high school.  Both schools are next to each other along a waterway Coupure.  Ghent is located in the Flemish region of Belgium and has 237.000 inhabitants and 65.000 students.

Pippa Murphy is a composer, sound designer, arranger, producer and musical director living in Scotland. She works with orchestras, ensembles, bands, artists, dancers, writers and performers in the UK and abroad.