Belfast, Northern Ireland, is an astonishingly musical city, and it has been said that the music of Belfast is truly “of the people.” The diverse creative wellsprings of musical forms that are heard in Belfast are largely those of local invention, created by individuals working with sounds and ideas that are contemporary and alive, informed by local sonic color and intensity. This has been the case for many, many years of course, and music has always played a pivotal role in driving Belfast forward. With each new wave of musical innovation Belfast has reinvented itself in a continuous blossoming of outstanding music and musicians. Belfast is home to the superb Ulster Orchestra, numerous venues for contemporary and traditional music, the elegant Waterfront Hall, among other great auditoriums, recording studios, an innovative musical incubator the Oh Yeah Music Centre, and a state-of-the-art and world class musical research facility at Queen’s University, the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC).
The compact disc recording that accompanies this special issue of the Five Points Journal of Literature and Art cannot hope to present examples of all of the wonderful music of such a vibrant cultural context. The initial call for submissions focused on the Oh Yeah Music Centre and the Sonic Arts Research Centre with the notion that these two institutions might describe polar extremes of musical expression and provide points of orientation for a musical snapshot of the city. The Oh Yeah Music Centre is quite unique as a supported and well-designed musical incubator for new bands, artists, entrepreneurs, engineers, songwriters, and music business people. A main thrust of Oh Yeah is working with disadvantaged young people of the area. The Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) is by contrast oriented toward the musical and scientific investigation of contemporary sonic art and electroacoustic music. SARC has brought musical researchers to Belfast from all over the world.
In developing the content for the CD, it was initially proposed that there be several key elements; readings of poetry, environmental sounds of the city, examples of popular song, and also more abstract contemporary sonic art works. An important feature of the materials included on the CD is that there is a connection either in the work itself, or in the person of the composer, to the city and region and, ideally, to both.
(Please note: the CD described above is NOT available at this website. Interested parties should contact the Five Points Journal of Literature and Art directly.)