Implausible music and silent symphonies

The sound of a dragon’s fiery breath playing a bugle will be one of many fantastical sounds that enliven a new art exhibition.

Acclaimed Hong Kong-based artist and composer Samson Young has collaborated with academics to fill the University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery with improbable noises and fragments of over-sized instruments.

The bellow of a 50ft-long trumpet can be heard – alongside the bugle played with 300 degrees Celsius dragon fire – in an indoor garden with 16 speakers sprouting from a landscape littered with gigantic trumpet parts.

Samson Young / Real Music 

24 July to 5 October; Monday - Friday: 10am - 5pm, Saturday & Sunday: 12pm - 5pm

Free entry

Talbot Rice Gallery, The University of Edinburgh, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH8 9YL

Real Music

Young’s show – Real Music – has been developed in part with the University of Edinburgh’s Next Generation Sound Synthesis (NESS) research group, led by Professor Stefan Bilbao.

The pioneering NESS software has allowed Young to conjure sounds created by instruments that do not actually exist, being played in imaginary and outlandish scenarios.

Elsewhere in Talbot Rice’s Georgian Gallery, Young has created a new series of colourful and textured drawings that transcribe seemingly impossible compositions.

Samson Young’s collaboration with the NESS group is exemplary of how Talbot Rice Gallery wants to work with artists. We’re trying to discover what this 16th century University can contribute to contemporary art production today that simply wouldn’t otherwise exist. The meeting between Samson Young and Stefan Bilbao was like two crystal balls colliding and splintering off into a third, and the exhibition that emerges for the Edinburgh Art Festival in 2019 will capture that energy.

Tessa GiblinTalbot Rice Director

UK debut

Real Music is Young’s first solo exhibition in the UK and is presented in conjunction with Edinburgh Art Festival 2019.

It also features a new video-performance lecture exploring the journey of the Chinese folk song, Molihua (Jasmin Flower). Young traces the song’s origins, its translation for Western audiences in the late 18th century, and how the appropriated melody then influenced the song in China.

The video is accompanied by musically limited items from the University collections known as tourist instruments – cheap versions of culturally specific instruments sold to visitors as mementos.

Muted instruments

In addition to his new artworks, the exhibition will include Muted Situation #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th, which has been commissioned by the Sydney Biennale 2017.

The 12-channel sound installation features an orchestra playing the work on muted instruments. The only sound is the physical exertion of the musicians as they perform.

Next year it will travel to Monash University Museum of Art in Melbourne, Australia, with whom Talbot Rice has co-published the exhibition catalogue.

Related links

Samson Young / Real Music

Talbot Rice Gallery

Next Generation Sound Synthesis (NESS)

Samson Young