Aberdeen Music Hall

Sound Artists – Associate Artists, Aberdeen Performing Arts
Nick Turner and Mary Ann Kennedy, Watercolour Music, Lochaber



Music Hall Percussion

Compiled by a virtual drum kit made from sampled recordings of the Music Hall enviroment. Assembled in to EZ Drummer for midi loop performances. Available from the download section as a wav sound file set along with a composition from Brian Jamieson ( aka Damaged Goodz)

Convolved Reverb

The digital recreation of an acoustic space. By recording acoustic impulses within the Music Hall ( Starter Pistol and Audio Sweep) we can map the space by using Algorithmic software. The goal being to be able to take any recorded sound and "put" it in to the Music Hall. Samples included in the download section.

Emerging Artist

The emerging artist award contributes towards the sound commission work, community workshops for under-privileged young people, inter-generational work, ‘Looked After’ young people, and children who use English as an additional language).Whilst continuing their own artist development they will engage new audiences in and around Aberdeen throughout the Music Hall closure, with the intention of creating a new generation of Music Hall attendees when the hall reopens.

Live Music Now

Working with Live Music Now! Scotland and their director, Carol Main, the project will develop a collaboration through several of LMN’s current strands. These would include ‘Composing With Care’, a reminiscence-based project working with older people; and an ongoing commitment to enabling talented young LMN Artists return to their birthplace to work themselves with budding young musicians and encourage them to explore potential career paths in the creative industries.


Mary Ann will write a new work for the two ‘voices’ of Violin and Flute to celebrate the architect of the Music Hall, Archibald Simpson, who, along with his brother, was instrumental in reviving the Aberdeen Musical Society.The suite of duet miniatures would reflect traditional and classical roots, with a nod to the Victorian fascination with all things Scottish, centred in Aberdeen’s hinterland, and also to the blurring of boundaries between genres in Scottish music-making and composition today


New and archive recordings will contribute to the creation of new soundscapes representing past experiences of music and other events at the Music Hall – from Dickens to the Scots Trad Music Awards to 70s Glam Rock. The soundscapes will be able to be used across digital and real-time platforms while the Music Hall is undergoing refurbishment. Watercolour will also liaise with Fiona Robertson and Pete Stollery of the Sound Festival to explore other potential opportunities for use of these soundscapes.

The Murals

A separate series of audio soundscapes for live music-electronica performance and recording will be created by Nick and Mary Ann, using as inspiration the Art Nouveau murals of Robert Douglas Strachan in the Music Hall, the only sizeable surviving examples of his early work away from the stained glasswork on which his reputation was made. Like other Art Nouveau artists, Douglas Strachan was drawn to the cross-sensual concepts of synaesthesia as illustrated in these murals. The soundscapes would respond to his work and bring the synaesthetic experience full-circle


Nick and Mary Ann will explore the aspirations of YACNE and their relationship to the Sound Artist Associateship, and see the above connections and collaborations as being in harmony with the general work of the YACNE partnership. They will be working with young people to explore their interests in other disciplines and genres



Recorded at 96Khz, 24 bit. Soundfield SPS200 Ambisonic microphone in to Tascam DR70D. Four Mono Channels in A Format.


Drum Loop: 44.1 Khz Stereo Wav File, 16 bit. Higher Res on request

Drum Hit Zip File - 44.1 Khz MonoWav Files, 16 bit. Higher Res on request

Drum Hit Sounds

Impulse Files: Mono Sweep and Pistol Shot. 96Khz 24 Bit Mono Wav

Impulse Responses Zip. 4 Channel Surround Sound Format A. Ch 1: LF, Ch 2:RF, Ch 3: LB, Ch 4: RB. Four File Sets. Sweep and Pistol Stalls, Sweep and Pistol Circle.96Khz 24 Bit.

Deconvolved Impulses Responses Zip ( Voxengo Deconvolver) 96Khz 24 Bit


Òran do Glaschu - A searing Temperence song from 19th century Glasgow. Appearing on Mary Ann Kennedy's forthcoming Glaschu CD. Reverb from The Aberdeen Concert Hall


Music Hall Ambience 1, Ambience 2, Ambience 3. Sound design for APA assocoate artists using stretched audio and sampled sounds and interviews from the Stepping Out Project.


An Dara Sealladh: ‘Stepping Out’ Commission for Aberdeen Performing Arts

Mary Ann Kennedy & Nick Turner, Artists in Association, Aberdeen Music Hall 2016

Nick Turner:                       Soundscape & Programming
Mary Ann Kennedy:        Piano, Spoken Word  


Guest artists
Rona Wilkie:                      Violin, Voice
Marit Fält:                           Lätmandola
Ben Torrie:                         Aberdeen Music Hall Steinway Grand


‘An Dara Sealladh’ is the Gaelic term for the Second Sight. As Nick and I worked on this commission, inspired in different ways by the beautiful Strachan murals situated around the balcony walls of the Music Hall, I found myself considering ideas of perception, both visual and conceptual. I wanted this piece to reflect how different perceptions of the same object, sound or idea could have an impact on how a person might then engage with the same, much as the whole APA artistic programme connected with the Music Hall’s refurbishment aims to do.

The murals were originally created by Aberdeen artist Robert Douglas Strachan over a period of years around the turn of the 20th Century. The images are of Apollo and his Muses, and various episodes of the myth of Orpheus and Euridice. Strachan was better known as a contemporary stained-glass artist, with work in places such as King’s College, Aberdeen, Edinburgh Castle, St. Giles’ Cathedral and the Peace Palace in The Hague. These early murals however show him emerging from the European Art Nouveau movement, and associating with the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, or ‘Total Works of Art’.

As these murals were visual artistic representations of musical subjects, we decided to bring them full circle, back to a musical evocation of the Hall and its role in city life. The murals have looked down on the goings-on of the Music Hall since the first decade of the 1900s and have observed not just music-making, dancing and other artistic performances and pastimes, but the whole gamut of Aberdeen entertainment, from bazaars to boxing matches.


‘An Dara Sealladh reflects and refracts all this using a variety of inputs, including found-sounds from around the Music Hall building, from radiators to stage floorboards; convolution reverb situated in the auditorium itself; the sounds of the various in-house instruments, including the Wills organ and Steinway grand piano; the Scandi-Scottish flavours of guest artists Marit and Rona, and composed and improvised elements of music deconstructing and eventually coalescing into the final strains of one of Aberdeen’s most famous songs, ‘The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen’. The song was originally composed by Englishwoman Mary Webb, and her piano, now in the Music Hall’s Mary Garden Room, also features in the soundscape. 

The voices of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire can also be heard: during our artistic association, we encountered a wide range of attitudes to the Music Hall, with some folk finding it a rather imposing building whose granite pillars were not calculated to be welcoming. They would be right in interpreting the original builders’ intentions, but certainly not today’s! But we also heard many warm, loving and funny reminiscences from local audience members and performers, and some of these were also incorporated to reflect the Hall as belonging to the people, something we consistently saw during our time on this project.


The text reflects my own Gaelic-speaking background, and comes from ‘Carmina Gadelica’, Alexander Carmichael’s great collection of hymns, prayers, charms and incantations collected in the 19th Century, and first published at the time of the murals’ creation. It is an extract from an incantation for ‘Latha Sealbhach’, the Auspicious Day – while work is still on-going and not yet ready, and in this case, looking forward to the grand re-opening of the refurbished Music Hall. 


Fhir a dh’imicheadh a màireach,
Dèan fuireach beag mar a tha thu,
Gun an dean mi lèin an t-sàth dhut;
Tha fuireach is fuireach dhà sin:
Chuireadh an lìon is cha d’fhàs e,
Tha a’ chlòimh air caor an fhàsaidh,
Tha bheart-fhighe ’n coille Phàdraig,
Tha ’m bac anns a’ chraoibh an àirde,
Tha an spàl aig Rìgh na Spàine,
Tha ’n t-iteachan aig a’ Bhànri’nn,
Tha bhaineach gun bhreith dh’a màthair,
Fhir a dh’imicheadh a màireach.


Thou man who wouldst travel to-morrow,
Tarry a little as thou art,
Till I make a shirt of thread for thee;
There is waiting and waiting for that:
The lint was sown but has not grown,
The wool is on the sheep of the wasteland,
The loom is in the wood of Patrick,
The beam is on the highest tree,
The shuttle is with the King of Spain,
The bobbin is with the Queen,
The weaver is not born to her mother.
Thou man who wouldst travel tomorrow.


We would like to thank Dr. Clare Willsdon of the University of Glasgow for sharing her knowledge on the Strachan murals and helping to explain their place in a broader historical context. Thanks also to Dr. Deborah Lewer, also of the University of Glasgow and the Solas Festival, for effecting the introduction. Our thanks also to Lesley Anne Rose, Head of Production, and the whole Aberdeen Performing Arts team involved in the Music Hall’s renaissance, and to Bea Dawkins Dunsmore, Emerging Artist Sound with the ‘Stepping Out’ programme.


Further reference to the murals can be found in Dr. Willsdon’s ‘Mural Painting in Britain 1840-1940: Image and Meaning’ (Oxford University Press, 2000). 

‘An Latha Sealbhach’ can be found on p. 322 of ‘Carmina Gadelica’, Vol. 5 (Alexander Carmichael, ed. James Carmichael Watson: Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh, 1954). 


Mary Ann Kennedy, Artist in Association
May 8th 2017, Watercolour Music, Ardgour





Music Hall