Declaration Kriol

img_2771I’ve been working with Arts on the Run and Rafiki Jazz on an embedded research project, developing software around group composition / improvisation sessions. It’s interesting to be developing computer language when the members of the band have different mother tongues and musical heritage, so that the technology forms part of the ongoing cultural negotiation. The technology I’m making will form the voice of an “avatar”, which will be created by puppet maker Emma Powell, and which will join the band on stage. So the technology will literally contribute another language (or at least pseudo-language, but lets see!). The project is using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the most translated document) as inspiration, hence the name.

My involvement is funded by the Culture, Society and Innovation Hub, University of Leeds, where my fellowship with ICSRiM is based. The Declaration Kriol project is also funded by the AHRC Transmitting Musical Heritage project, University of Sheffield.

Here is the first recording I contributed to using my new software. The track was composed and recorded in a single day at Yellow Arch in Sheffield:

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So far the software organises sound sampled live from from the vocalists into a timbre space, and I’m then triggering ‘drawings’ in that space. The drawings are forming a set of symbols, I guess words are next… As you can hear, the software forms a very small part of the whole, here’s all the fine people involved, in no particular order:

Kadialy Kouyate (senegal): kora
Vanessa Rani Chutturghoon (uk/mauritius): vocals
Catherine Carr (uk): guitar
Sarah Yaseen (uk): vocals
Mina Salama (egypt): ney and kawala flutes
Jaheda Choudhury (uk/bangladesh) MC
Guery Tibirica (brazil): berimbau, percussion
John Ball (uk): tabla
Tony Koni: fretless bass
Alex ‘yaxu’ McLean: code (algo-kriol)
Arad Tamizi (Iran): daf
Monica Ross, Acts of Memory: Declaration mentor
Aysegul Thornett: documentary photography
Joao Paulo Simoes: documentary filming
Robin Downe, Yellow Arch Studios: sound engineer

Touring in the Autumn!



  1. Cath Carr also plays steelpans, and Mina Salama oud!

    Looking forward to next step: Alex ‘Yaxu’ McLean v MC Jaheda Choudhury in Declaration Dub


  2. Hi Alex! Curious about Kriol software… could you give more details about the implementation?

    Beautiful vocals, awesome composition!

    Best of wishes.

  3. Hi Vilson
    Thanks for nice comments about composition & vocals.
    All these Declaration Kriol tracks are conceived, arranged and recorded live just in one intensive 8 hr studio session!
    Sometimes with singers and players meeting and working together for the first time. Fresh way of working.
    check out and go to Declaration Kriol Project, and also Beyond Words there too…tracks all created the same way.
    Love your auto-drawing thing..great for musicians!

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