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Ways of Listening - Listening With the Clarinet

Poster image by Sunny Vowles

Event: Sep 25th  (2021) 10–5, Woolwich Works (London), with clarinettist Heather Roche. Free event, lunch and snacks will be provided.

Watch video trailer here.


Listening with the Clarinet explored modes and situations of listening that artificially free the instrument (for a time) from its traditional musical and historical context, and open it up to broader forms of experience. In the context of a one-day workshop of active listening and reflection, we are interested in exploring what new understandings and experiences of the instrument might emerge from this process, and what the compositional and theoretical implications of these might be.

woman playing contrabass clarinet with several blindfolded people sat listening

Working through Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening framework, the workshop will engage clarinetist Heather Roche and a group of participants in a range of listening activities and scenarios. These might include more open or closed approaches, exploring the instrument, for example, in terms of its interaction with the acoustic environment, in terms of its spectrality (listening inside the clarinet sound), as part of a vibrant assemblage, or from a social or contextual standpoint. The event is created in collaboration with the Listening With collective (convened by Alex De Little), who will be devising a series of responses and participatory scores for listening. 

The day began with a range of exercises and activations to prepare listening, followed by three sessions exploring the instrument from distinct standpoints, interspersed by breaks. Following the Deep Listening model, gathering and sharing reflection on experience will be central to the day: participants were invited to discuss and journal responses to the day’s engagement. Beyond pure engagement, this workshop was designed as an opportunity to share rich and diverse experiences of listening and to be attentive to the theoretical and compositional insights that these might hold.  

two people in corridor with clarinet parts pressed to their earslistening

This workshop was open to anybody with an interest in sound and listening, regardless of disciplinary background. We particularly welcome expressions of interest from people of colour, women and non-binary people. There are a maximum of 20 places. 



The Garden of Forking Paths (GFP) project approaches musical composition through a framework of contingent materiality, material agency, listening, and responsiveness. Going further than appending these elements to existing compositional approaches, it situates both (1) players’ responsiveness to contingency, and (2) the material agency of instruments, as the conditions for sound-making and composition; music is emergent from the ‘intra-action’ (Barad) between player and instrument. 

Ways of Listening is an event series, curated by Alex De Little, that invites audiences on sonic explorations as a way to investigate the act of listening and the ways in which it can define relationships to self, others and spatial environments. Ways of Listening events exist somewhere between concert, workshop and exhibition; they invite active listening by presenting works by composers and sound artists that engage ear and body in diverse ways.