Robert Mackay


for electroacoustic tape

duration: 9 minutes

I have based this Composition on the following piece of text by Sophocles (from 'Oedipus at Colonus'). Which I believe is still as relevant to us today as when it was first written:

'The Earth's strength fades,
And manhood's glory fades.
Faith dies,
And unfaith blossoms like a flower.
But who shall find,
In these open streets of men,
Or in the secret places of his own hearts love,
One wind blow true forever.'

In this piece I have tried to mirror the meaning and mood of the text, both in its context within the play it is from, and in the more general relevence it has to people of any generation. A gloomy truth pervades the first four lines, but the second half of the text offers hope in the enormity of time and the universe.

Also the material for the piece (which includes the text itself) relates to the Greek ideals of music, set down by Boethius: Musica Mundana, Musica Humana, and Musica Instrumentalis.

Within this piece I have carried on my interest in transforming from one recognisable sound to another, playing on human auditory perception and also using this to travel from the imaginary to the real and back again.

Voicewind was created in the electroacoustic music studios at Bangor in 1998. It won a prize in the EAR99 competition of Hungarian Radio in 1999.

Robert Mackay (b.1973) - completed a degree in Geology and Music at Keele University in 1995, studying electroacoustic composition with Mike Vaughan. Currently he is lecturer in Creative Music Technology for the University of Hull, Scarborough Campus and is pursuing a doctorate in musical composition at the University of Wales, Bangor under the supervision of Andrew Lewis.

His work has gained international recognition in the form of prizes; Bourges 'Synthése' Festival in France (1997 and 2001), EAR99 from Hungarian Radio in 1999. His pieces have been performed across Europe and the UK (including performances on BBC Radio 3) as well as America, Australia and New Zealand. He has had four pieces shortlisted with SPNM and received a performance at the 1998 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival as a result.

As well as composing in various genres, he is an actor, singer and instrumentalist. He has performed in productions all over the UK, and has made several Radio and Television appearances. He plays and writes in a number of bands and ensembles, including IMP as well as the Welsh Hip-Hop collective 'Tystion' and recently collaborated with John Cale (of the Velvet Underground) in the film 'A Beautiful Mistake' with them. They have also recorded 2 John Peel sessions on BBC Radio 1, and supported international acts, including PJ Harvey.

More information and Soundworks CD available at:

Back to shortlist.