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BitterSuite: Synaesthesia in the classroom and beyond

We’re thrilled to have one of last year’s Sound Connections Innovate funded projects running an expert masterclass for us this September on the topic of music and synaesthesia, particularly in light of their recent successes within the music education sector and beyond.

Stephanie Singer created BitterSuite to explore new ways of thinking about classical music. Inspired by graphic notation and synaesthesia Stephanie has run multi-sensory community projects in a variety of settings. As well as a five-week project to engage young teens at risk of becoming NEET with Sound Connections, she has also worked on a collaboration between five deaf and blind artists, and five artists from BitterSuite to create a musical installation with Sense UK. BitterSuite also have a concert model, featured on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune and in The Guardian. In these concerts audience members are blindfolded and have a multi-sensory experience choreographed to a piece of music, to extend the experience of listening into every single sense.

The Sensory Score is BitterSuite’s newest piece, funded by NESTA “Futurefest”, with original music written by composer Tanya Auclair who BBC Radio 6 describe as “Gobsmacking”. BitterSuite have been touring the production and have most recently graced the stages of Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire, as well as East London independent arts venue and home to Sound Connections, Rich Mix. The music, a pop infused classical experimental piece performed by a string trio, acts as a catalyst for the performers to guide the listener through a world of sensory surprises. The blind-folded audience can expect to taste dissonance, touch timbres and smell harmonies, all the while being moved and held by the expert performers, putting their utmost trust in them as they lead them through the multi-sensory journey.

Sound Connections Programme Assistant, Siân Dicker-Thorne, participated in The Sensory Score at Rich Mix as an audience member:

“The sensory experiences completely changed the way I listened to the music, just as the music enhanced my senses. I was suddenly hyper-aware of what I was listening to, and rather than being a passive audience member I became totally involved in the music, both mentally and physically. I particularly loved the adventurous smells and tastes; they were all completely unexpected and despite being blind-folded, they created a visual element to the performance as I was trying to imagine what they (the food, scents and music) looked like.”

The Guardian’s Lyndsey Winship writes:

“BitterSuite symphonies allow you to remain powerfully in the moment by teasing your senses in time with the music…it’s inspired by synaesthesia the neurological condition that leads to a confusion of the senses. This is a concert where you don’t just listen to the music – you taste it, smell it and feel it as well.”

Want to find out more about using graphic notation and synaesthetic teaching methods within music education? Join BitterSuite for their masterclass for Sound Connections on Tuesday 15 September and re-invigorate your teaching practice by engaging your students in multi-sensory musical experiences.

Find out more and book your place now!

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