Inclusive Creativity

07 August 2015

‘Inclusive Creativity’ brings together musicians and composers from three arts organizations across the UK (Derry/Londonderry, Orkney and London), to research and develop participant-led routes into collaborative music making using assistive music technology (AMT).   Funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the project is one of just fourteen consortia selected to support participatory performing arts practices.  

Under the direction of composer and Ulster University Professor of Music Frank Lyons, Walled City Music in Derry/ Londonderry will develop an ensemble of disabled and non-disabled artists who will meet, improvise and compose music together over the summer of 2015, using AMT and more conventional musical instruments. Speaking after the first taster session, Professor Lyons said:

‘This project has already surpassed my expectations – we had an ensemble of 9 players including 5 young learning disabled musicians in the room who were able to immediately start accessing music-making in completely new ways. There was such an energy and buzz from the group who’ve already christened themselves ‘Acoustronic’! I am really excited about what will develop over the summer.’

Members of the ensemble will travel to Orkney in September to join professional musicians and composers in pilot sessions relating to St. Magnus International Festival’s internationally acclaimed Composers’ Course. The composers and musicians will work together  to explore uses of AMT and to compose new music which examines the integration of AMT and different levels of musical ability.   The composers will also investigate the potential for new types of notation, which might be used universally with AMT users..  

Artistic Director Alasdair Nicolson says,

‘St Magnus Composers’ Course which takes place around the St Magnus International Festival itself has a strong tradition internationally of preparing emerging professional composers for all aspects of the compositional world. The course has worked outside the professional world in terms of the craft of the composer creating music with non-professionals, children and folk musicians. Adding a new layer of work with AMT and disabled musicians for these pilot days further extends the Course participants’ exposure to a wider range of compositional opportunities.’

Throughout the project, Drake Music will carry out qualitative research into the creative relationships between musicians, the development of new technologies and notational forms, and the partnership between the three organizations.  

Drake Music’s Creative Producer, Mary Paterson, says: ‘This project is about music-making and participation at every level and for everyone, inspiring new ways for musicians and composers to work together. It will have a long lasting impact on the way that music is produced and showcased around the world.’

Using a participant-led process, Inclusive Creativity aims to break down barriers between disabled and non-disabled musicians, and explore the creative potential of new technologies for composing, sharing and playing music.  The project will learn from the collaboration between the three partner organizations, as a first step towards developing an international network for touring and supporting inclusive ensembles on the festival circuit.

This project runs from June to October 2015, and is one of fourteen consortia supported by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, as part of ‘Sharing the Stage’, to support participatory performing arts practices. The funders say, 

‘We have a long-standing record of significant interventions in the arts in the UK with groundbreaking work in relation to the arts in communities. We are very excited about the development of Inclusive Creativity, which aims to increase accessibility and inclusivity in music and the performing arts, making participation accessible to all regardless of disabling barriers.’

Inclusive Creativity is a concept devised by Professor Frank Lyons at Ulster University in collaboration with key partners such as Share Music Sweden, Drake Music and Stravaganza, which aims to level the playing field in performance and composition for disabled musicians by developing new technologies and methodologies for their use.

This project also draws on Drake Music’s 20-year history developing AMT in conjunction with innovative approaches to teaching, learning and making music, and on St Magnus Festival’s reputation as an international centre for world-class art.  


Calouste Gulbenkian foundation
British Council