Wax and Dust: Experiments in Composition at the British Library Sound Archive


Event and vinyl launch
Thursday 12 January 2017
Free, no booking required

Artists Aleks Kolkowski and Larry Achiampong share their behind-the-scenes experiences of the British Library Sound Archive where they have been Sound and Music Embedded composers in residence for the last twelve months – the first artists to have had such access to the archive.

Presentations and performances from both artists will combine with an opportunity to hear from curators at the British Library Sound Archive reflect on the archive’s special collections and artefacts that have inspired the artists – from some of the earliest wax cylinder recordings to field recordings of communities performing throughout West Africa.

Building on his previous projects Meh Mogya, More Mogya, Larry Achiampong’s research during the residency has scrutinised audio and visual samples from the western region of the African continent, using the British Library Sound Archive as a source of inspiration to create a new vinyl LP, which will be launched on the evening.

Aleks Kolkowski’s work has focused on the wide-ranging collections of early recordings on cylinders and the vast Bishop collection of sound effects from the 1930s and 40s on acetate discs.

Larry Achiampong and Aleks Kolkowski are the first residents of the Sound and Music Embedded Residency at the British Library Sound Archive.

Larry Achiampong’s solo and collaborative projects employ imagery, aural and visual archives, live performance and sound to explore cross-cultural and post-digital identity. Achiampong has presented projects at Tate Britain/Modern, London; dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel; BFI, London; Modern Art Oxford, Oxford; SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin; Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation, Accra; and The Mistake Room, Los Angeles.

Aleksander Kolkowski is a composer, violinist, sound artist and researcher. In a career spanning more than 30 years as a professional musician, he has appeared at major festivals worldwide and recorded for numerous record labels with various ensembles, bands and as a solo performer. Over the past twelve years he has explored the potential of historical sound recording and reproduction technology, combining horned violins, gramophones and wax cylinder phonographs, to make contemporary mechanical-acoustic music.

The British Library is home to the National Sound Archive, an extraordinary collection of over 6 million recordings. They date from the birth of recorded sound in the 19th century and are a treasure trove of living history. You can listen online to a portion of the sound archive’s collections on www.sounds.bl.uk. More information about the British Library’s Save our Sounds programme.

Sound and Music is the national charity for new music. It champions new music and the work of British composers and artists, and seeks to ensure that they are at the heart of cultural life and enjoyed by many.

This event is generously supported by PRSF and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.


We use cookies to remember if you logged in or if you’ve interacted with the newsletter subscription form.
Pages that have embedded media such as YouTube videos or Spotify playlists require third party cookies to function.