PRSF New Music Award –have your say and win a Zeppelin Mini



The UK’s most ambitious music prize is the PRS for Music Foundation New Music Award which carries a £50,000 prize.

This year, for the first time, they are opening the voting to the public. The voting will close on 12th September and the public vote will count as one vote on the judging panel. The winner will be awarded a £50,000 prize at a glittering ceremony in the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion on 16th September and their winning new musical work will premiere in 2011.

Let us know at the bottom of this blog which piece you think deserves to win and why, then vote here. The best answer will win a Zeppelin Mini and an iPod loaded with the five short listed films plus a half-hour SkyArts documentary.

The five shortlisted ideas cover the widest possible range of musical genres from electronic and site specific to acoustic and African-inspired beats, and the PRS for Music Foundation has comissioned a short film for each of the entries.

The five entries are:

aroundNorth – a stellar orchestra based on the rotation of stars around the Celestial North Pole

Automata Musica – combines the skills of composer and craftsman to make “automatic instruments” which audience members can play

The Battle of the Wordsmiths – recreates African musical instruments through beatboxing which introduces western audiences to the ancient traditions to Yoruba culture

The Organ of Corti – recycles existing sounds to create new ways of listening

SATSYMPH – a “satellite symphony” delivered through an iPhone app

The films will also be screened free from 26th July to 5th September. Venues include the ICA, London, Watershed in Bristol, the Black Box in Belfast, Sage Gateshead, Cornerhouse in Manchester, Cardiff Chapter Arts Centre, Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Arts, Liverpool Bluecoat Arts Centre, Nottingham Broadway Media Centre and the Roundhouse, London.

Let us know at the bottom of this blog which piece you think deserves to win and why, then vote here. The best answer will win a Zeppelin Mini and an iPod loaded with the 5 short listed films plus a half-hour SkyArts documentary.


  • clare says:

    robert jarvas. I love his idea to music and the solar system entwined into one. what a fabulous idea. Its great to a connection to the solar system and the earth.

  • Doctor B says:

    An amazing overview of creativity in sound in the UK, all of them deserving of support and recognition.

  • Manick Govinda says:

    I voted for battle of wordsmith. It’s human, it’s passionate and it brings the past and present together through a dialectical exchange. It’s also visceral and very physical – free your ass and your mind will follow or free your mind and your ass will follow?

  • Jenni says:

    The stars have always held much significance for the human race: from using stars to navigate the globe, to seeking life-guidance from astrologists. When we look up at night, how dull would the sky look without the stars? aroundNorth will provide us with the chance to actually hear the stars, singing to us, in all their glory. For people without sight, this is an opportunity to hear what eveyone else has seen for centuries. A glorious concept that will be housed in a beautiful location.

  • Felix says:

    I think The Organ of Corti is the piece which has the most potential for positively changing how we listen to the world.

    As far as I can tell from the video, The Organ of Corti draws attention both to the sounds which are around us already, and to the mechanics of our ears. I love that it does not add new sounds to the environment, but rather reshapes our perception of existing sounds and invites us to reconsider the way that we hear and think about them; this feels like a timely and playful exploration of the noisy, post-industrial world that we have created together, and I think the organ provides a welcome opportunity to reconsider, explore and review what is already here before we add to it.

    I also think The Organ of Corti offers the most accessible and meaningful audience experience out of all the shortlisted projects, because it can be applied to familiar sounds which already mean something to the people who listen to their worlds through the organ. People who hear the traffic that they hear every day through the organ will remember the different potentials in that sound every time they hear the traffic afterwards, so the project has a lasting legacy which will embed itself in everyday sounds and listening long after the organ has moved on…

    …The Organ of Corti also seems to give the audience an experience which is playful and full of discovery. From the video, it appears that hearing the world through The Organ of Corti involves active exploration and wonder on the part of the listener or the audience, and I think that impressions found through this kind of active participation last for a long time after an artwork has been experienced, because your whole body remembers the unfolding experience, and the part you played in it. I think this is an empowering experience, which reminds you of your own abilities to listen to, and think differently about, sounds.

    I think that after hearing a sound you know well through The Organ of Corti, it could be difficult to prevent yourself from asking how other things may sound through that sonic lens, and so I think the potential legacy for how we will think about and imagine sounds as a result of this work is much greater than in the case of the other shortlisted projects.

    I love the ongoing link between everyday sounds and the potential for music, and I think this work – more than any other in the shortlist – builds on the legacy of John Cage, and other composers who have explored environmental sound as a potential source or variety of music.

    The affirmative and celebratory dimension of such ideas is worth sustaining – especially via projects like The Organ of Corti, which enhance the pleasure we can find in our everyday lives just by shifting the way that we listen to the world that is around us.

  • Michael says:

    aroundNorth gets my vote.

    I’m all for crossovers that really work so aroundNorth’s ability to bring art and science together gives it a big head start there for me. The fact that I’m a stargazer helps too ;-). Anyway, it gives a powerful base to work from.

    I’m also drawn to it by its universality (no pun intended). The other entries are limited by either location (being in SW England), money (having someone able to afford to install a Corti or provide automata), or musical taste (not everyone likes hip-hop), whereas aroundNorth can be enjoyed freely, now and forever more by anyone on or off the entire planet, presumably in any orchestrated style they prefer. It is really timelessly elegant.

    Last, but not least, it is the one with the most emotional harmony for me, and I suspect for more members of the public than the other projects. Basically because so many of us have at one time or another looked up, felt small, and wondered of the vasteness of the Universe.

    It simply works for me on every level from the base on up to the emotional harmony. A lovely idea.

  • andrew says:

    Wordsmiths. This is a fascinating use of modern street music and vocal styles combined with ancient Yoruba rhythms to create a uniquely poetic fusion. Both the modern and traditional seem to grow from being together in one groove. 1 + 1 = 3.

  • Dr J says:

    Organ of Corti. Some of the best art / science is about revealing what is already there, where it went unnoticed or unrealized before. I think Organ of Corti does this, too – and it is interesting and different that it’s not art or science as such (although that is involved), but music (and I do think it’s music). Another great thing is that unlike any other entry here, no new sonic material is added: this is a revealing or creating through reduction. It also offers a very original take on well-known musical approaches / techniques like field recording, algorithms over soundfiles, filtering, and minimalism. Plus, it looks great, it is very simple and timeless (no computing or contraptions, just rods), looks easy to implement in multiple situations and forms, and I can see it working with the public.

  • scottfree says:

    There is a qualitative difference between SATSYMPH and the others: SATSYMPH is a completely authored environment which, perhaps paradoxically, gives users the opportunity to self-create their own unique contemporary symphonic experience ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. SATSYMPH is not ‘a one-off” or a translator of existing ambient but an infinitely variable virtual auditorium. SATSYMPH is the next stage in development of ‘music’ and ‘poetry’. That’s why : SATSYMPH!

  • James says:

    I voted for Satsymph as this idea is the only one that is really pioneering – all the other pieces are great but don’t really push any new boundaries very far if at all – we’ve had ambient music, sounds filtered from one type to another, sounds initiated by external stimuli, all that sort of thing is very worthy, but not new. Satsymph is creating something completely new – the way music is experienced and composed – it’s never happened like this before. The way the music is placed into the landscape and you have to walk to discover it and create your own story is new too. People make their own compositions by exploring the natural environment – it’s got to be good for your health, too, as it gets you out and about! It can also become international immediately as it’s not confined to one place only or one time – it can be all over the world – that’s amazing! And yes, for the very first experience you will need an iphone, but this can quickly change to be available on many other types of phone and media. when a concert or installation happens, it’s usually in one place so restricts many people from taking part because they don’t live near or is at a special time. Satsymph can be taken anywhere and be experienced at any time by lots of people. And it’s not just about music – it’s about poetry too, and that’s a first for this competition. Satsymph really can broaden audiences as it can appeal to people who are interested in poetry as well as music, and it’s not in a concert hall and you can experience it completely in your own way.
    Satsymph can change the way music is experienced and the way artists think about composing new music – it’s all really new and pioneering and deserves to win!!!!!

  • Ian Talbot says:

    For it’s true innovation I voted for SATSYMPH. It seems to me that it is the one concept that reaches out to people who have perhaps never considered this type of music, or poetry, before. As a concept too there would appear to be few limiting factors for future growth…

  • Vivienne says:

    Satsymph are my winners. I love the way Satsymph have extended the boundaries within their concepts. They have given the listener the ability to take the Satsymph journey which is not only magical but completely Enchanting! They simply must win!

  • Rosy James says:

    Interactive art of any kind is a great way to introduce audiences to new concepts and enhance their experience. I love the way this piece combines music and poetry and shares the composing with the people exploring it. It’s inspiring and original and will touch people’s senses on many different levels.

  • Rosy James says:

    Obviously I was talking about SATSYMPH.

  • Bill Knocker says:

    I believe art is a way of communicating ideas or emotions to people by means other than by a simple logical recounting of the facts. Even written prose becomes art when it generates an emotional response that goes beyond a purely intellectual understanding. All five projects are novel and inspiring, but three are technological innovations that can be used to create art as defined above. About North and Wordsmiths would truly be pieces of art in their own right.

    I am an amateur astronomer and have struggled to convey to other people the sense of wonder I feel when learning about the universe. About North is an original way to convey some of that wonder through our musical senses, which is a way that can make the universe live in our minds in a different way. It will also make it accessible to people who cannot see the beautiful images that most of us can see. It must be dreadful for visually impaired people to be told that they are in the presence of a wonderful sight and not to be able to see it. If this idea gives them another way to make the image real in their minds, it has to be given its chance.

    For that reason, and for the possibility of the wonder of the universe living in my mind in a new way, I voted for About North and I hope that it lives up to its promise.

  • Mark says:

    I have voted for SATSYMPH as the competition is to find the most innovative musical ideas in the UK today. A truly unique listening experience coupled with an interaction with space/landscape all triggered by the listener is a worthy heir of Cage, Ives and Birtwistle…..a concept whose applications are far-reaching and varied. Can anyone say a collection of ‘new musical toys’ are that interesting? Like any child, the toys will be played with, shaken and rattled before being abandoned as the limited musical interest wears off. Beatboxing? Yawn! How is this innovative? An envirnonmental musical filter (the organ of Corti) is a nice idea but are the results that interesting? Stars determining musical phenomena…….all depends on the ingenuity of talents of the composer creating the triggered sounds.

    SATSYMPH is a revolutionary way to experience both sound and the world we live in. Innovative? YES! YES! YES!

  • jane says:

    SATSYMPH to me offers an innovative approach to using current communications technology to bring multimedia experience to a wide range of people. This is not only the most imaginative of the projects but also the most likely to reach a wide variety of people most of whom would not normally pay interest to contemporary music and arts.

  • Gordon Crosse says:

    I like SarSymph. Although all have “Cageian” elements and involve audience participation – this is the one that most retains the dignity of a creator or Author. Something is created by the authors – but the audience can control how they experience it. and by moving around the space will feel they are truly exploring. It does not make the mistake of thinking that “Anyone can compose….” and it is not a slave to chance. I am sure that once it has been a success on the iPhone it will appear on other devices. I am excited by this project and cannot wait to experience it.

  • sylvia junge says:

    The reason why Satsymph should win is very simple; it is a brilliant, innovative, musically creative idea.,unique. No contest!

  • John A. Carollo says:

    I voted for Satsymph for its creative potential, its interactive effect and its accessibility. No other artistic contestant in this competition has all three of these intriguing qualities as part of their proposal. Aesthetically, Satsymph has a sound set of foundational principals that has promise and can be a springboard for a rich future musical tradition. It’s a visionary proposal sets forth the idea that each and every one of us can be creators and have influence over our creations as we go from here to there. Taking the music hall out of its rooted environment and into a moving landscape is an idea that has come none to soon. As artists, we need to be concerned with the manner in which we leave our traditions to future generations. Satsymph will get more of our precious youth involved, being creative and having fun! Life is a “moving picture” and as we move in our unique landscapes the symphonic sounds that we experience will always be new as we articulate our ideas with novel verbal constructs.

  • Liz Spurgeon says:

    SATSYMPH has the wonder and imagination to break new ground:) my vote is with them everytime.

  • Kerry Andrew says:

    I’m going for AroundNorth. The music will be created by something so out of our control and will make us look up. It’s something for me that would connect science and the mysterious.

  • ivonoates says:

    SATSYMOH offers a great future direction for sound experiment

  • Victoria says:

    SATSYMPH has the amazing potential to create music for you anywhere you are- sounds simple! it takes complexity and creates an immediate and personal experience. The environment in four dimesions.

  • adam says:

    the organ of corti

    this piece should win because its simple and its accessible.
    it can be understood by all ages.
    it plays on our perception of sound, the musicality of sound and will bring all sorts of people closer to the wonder of the musicality sound & noise.
    in a world bombarded by noise it will in a unique way enable the listener to focus in
    on particular elements of sound within its respective environment.
    its architectural and will embody physical space in a unique way.

    i love it.

  • Marc says:

    I voted for SATSYMPH – it’s a revolution in music/poetry fusion – totally pioneering. Nothing will be the same after, just endless creative possibilities. Passionate, exciting, exploratative, engaging, compelling; an Alice in Wonderland fantasy experience delivered to you, anywhere in the world, through your mobile device. A walk in the park will never be the same again! That’s why people all over the world are interested in it, why philosophical articles are being written about it and people can’t wait to experience it. You want something new, REALLY new, then it has to be SATSYMPH!

  • Ken says:

    The competition is about the most PIONEERING music in the UK – not the nicest, most popular, most easily digested, most playful, most familiar or most spiritual. The competition is about innovation, newness, what’s revolutionary. So what is revolutionary and new?

    Certainly, just about every type of music has been experimented with and written and performed live, recorded, with electroacoustics, the list is endless – minimalism, new complexity, neo-classical, post modern, avant garde, impressionistic, ambient, popular – you name it, all been done one way or another. So what IS new in music and what can be new in this competition and context?

    Is it the music itself or could it perhaps be something else like the way we experience and construct music that is now the most pioneering and new aspect of music for the future. I believe it is.

    Satsymph offers a completely new way to experience and create music and words that is both fully authored by composers (as opposed to ambient and externally triggered music) that is also highly interactive and determined by the people who experience it, set into a landscape that can be explored like physically walking through the pages of a vast score and playing the music as you walk by, mixing it, structuring it to follow your movements. And this can happen anywhere in the world over and over.

    That’s a completely new way to experience music – that’s what innovation is – not the reapplying of familiar principles with new triggers and filters, they are small changes of perspective, no matter how lovely and attractive – Satsymph, however, offers a paradigm change!

    Satsymph IS innovation,

    IS art and

    IS the future!

  • David Collins says:

    I like the Organ of Corti, because it’s recycling, it’s outdoors, and its’ accessible to potentially many thousands of people because it’s transportable. It can give a new experience at every listening, and because it is recycling sounds, it is communicating directly to each listener about their own immediate environment. So it’s kind of more than “just” music, it’s so relevant to many of the most important themes in our lives today, and surely that’s what innovation in contemporary music has to strive to be.

  • Nazzarena Arman says:

    If performance is the result of the interaction between a living being, its actions and the space in which it all happens, then SATSYMPH is quintessentially the first and most significant leap forward in terms of artistic performance of this century. SATSYMPH breaks all the rules and conventions we have so far accepted about art. It consists of creating a parallel dimension to our everyday life and forming an organic and experiential world in its own right. SATSYMPH, which stands for Satellite Symphony, liberatingly and irrevocably blurs the boundaries between creator, executor and listener giving the latter the freedom to create without constraints.

    SATSYMPH uses the latest GPS enabled technology to present artistic content to the public, in the form of words and sounds of the highest quality. As such SATSYMPH becomes an all-embracing work of art, intrinsically entwining the man-made to the not-man-made. It also revolutionises the way artists can think about their work, programming it down to the millimetre to allow each one of us to create our own performance in a given space, entirely dependant on the listeners’ choices and actions.

    This part-art, part-technology installation is totally invisible. Having no visual element, the opportunity for those members of the public who may usually be resolutely against public art to attack and detract from it is, therefore, minimised. Access is reserved strictly to those people who choose to tap into it. The green credentials of SATSYMPH look very good indeed: nothing is physically created. Above all, nothing remains after the performance: no refuse is produced and there are no issues of where and how to preserve this opera (Italian for a dramatised work of music as well as work of art). Once the symphony has been painstakingly allocated an open space and the application uploaded to a receiver, phone or GPS display, the listener can interact with it freely, always occupying only virtual space. But SATSYMPH is no virtual reality exercise; rather it is something that is here to stay, permanently embedded in a new kind of reality: that of the future.

    As a performance theory person who has spent a considerable amount of time waiting for something like SATSYMPH to happen, without being able to put my finger on exactly what I was waiting for, allow me to rejoice at SATSYMPH. Hail the team of creators Marc Yeats, Ralph Hoyte and Phil Phelps for finally being able to position themselves on the shoulders of those proverbial giants and sit there with tranquil unawareness and indifference. Both Marc and Ralph had the cheek to tell me that they have very little knowledge of who and what they are sitting on. They came up with the idea via completely independent means from the traditional academic study of the humanities. But this fits in with who they are: doers.

    The giants I refer to are the embodiment of ideas which have formed in the centuries since records begun. There has been a long, long build up to this endeavour. How long? Well, it might be worthwhile to mention the “constant flowing of all things” (Πάντα ῥεῖ) which Heraclitus, a philosopher who lived between 535 and 475 BC, initiated by stating that “ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers”.

    This is one of the first concepts set in stone in Greek philosophy, one which has since challenged generations of philosophers and intellectuals throughout the centuries. Reality is constantly in motion, ever-changing, yet manifesting itself in forms that are always constant: the river is always the river, even if the water changes continuously. So, by walking through a SATSYMPH-equipped space, anyone can be in the ever-changing flow of sound. One cannot get much more per-forming than that: forming music in virtue of the fact of existing in a specific space, doing something simple like walking or standing still.

    Most crucially, because everyone is different and does different things in different ways at different times, the music that everyone is creating is, by default, unique. This river of fugeant (fusion-sound-word), as Ralph likes to point out, can then be stored away and played and re-played again at will. I wonder what good old Heraclitus would make of SATSYMPH’s application; he would have cause to feel very proud, for someone has finally proven one of the possible interpretations of his work in practice, not just words.

    Performance could not be demonstrated and ontologically grasped in a more succinct and down to earth manner than via SATSYMPH. Sensorial fun, intellectual novelty and audience participation could hardly be more democratically mixed together and shared around. Perhaps, it is now time for a new meaning of the word ‘performance’ and the latest corollary to many other concepts in our intellectual toolkit, because, yes, SATSYMPH simply is that kind of seminal work!

  • More Ken says:

    Oh yes, and Satsymph is completely green – it has no physical trace, it does not leave any mark or residue on the environment and takes minimal physical resources to reproduce.
    It is also uniquely transportable to anywhere in the world at the touch of a few buttons. It is also unique in that it can be experienced differently by 100s of people simultaneously across a huge or intimate space.
    And, it gets people out and about and moving around – you don’t sit and listen, you go find the music and words – it’s a voyage of discovery!

    All the projects here have great merits musically and for their ideas – but none are as revolutionary as Satsymph, that’s why I voted for it.

  • Laurie Fenwick says:

    Automatica Musica is a wonderful development. The composer allows the audience to take part voluntarily in the performace, thereby contributing to the overall experience, by providing them with instruments. John Cage, however, in his 4’33”, risked violence by not telling the audience what their role in his piece was to be!

  • Frances says:

    I like the Organ of Corti because it engages our curiosity about the sounds of our environment which we so often blank out

    It engages us in the world of sound in a fresh way. I’d love to see and hear it on SUSTRANS cycle routes where it could provide a rest stop for body mind and spirit !

  • More more Ken says:

    Wow – Nazzarena Arman’s comment is awesome – and so true – Satsymph is so different it could change the course of music creation and experience – now, that’s pioneering!!

    One also has to consider what is the musical value of all these projects – how engaging are the musical results, or sound results – how long would you listen before you get bored? How exciting are ambient triggered sounds or filtered noises or sounds that are always beautiful when freely combined? Wouldn’t capture my imagination for very long – how much ambient hiss, drone and tone do you want in one day?

    Satsymph is REAL authored music and words – it’s dramatic, sensitive, dynamic, communicative, human, interactive, responsive, theatrical – a real experience, new and fresh every time, never experienced in the same way twice – and as compelling as theatre or opera, but outside in the environment –

    now THAT captures my imagination!!

  • Martin Bulmer says:

    I find all these projects fascinating, and hope to see each of them come to fruition. I voted for Automata Musica because it involves interaction between people, to produce music from simple physical sources. It is not automatically driven like “Around North” nor is it a solitary experience like “Satsymph” or “Organ of Conti”. Unlike “The Battle of the Wordsmiths”, anyone can take part and put their own influence on the music produced. Automata Musica is the one I would most like to have a go at, to actually get hold of one of those handles, on a beautifully crafted musical instrument, and PLAY.

  • Sally R says:

    Just a question about the Organ of Corti.

    If it recycles environmental sounds, can these sounds be heard over and above the sounds it is recycling, in that same environment? Are the sounds amplified in some way?

    In the PRSF video it shows the Organ of Corti next to a very busy London road with heavy traffic making a hell of a noise. if the Organ of Corti is in situ, which I presume it is, it will need to be pumping out really loud sounds in the environment to be heard over and above the road noises or do you have to stand extremely close to it to hear the sounds it produces?

  • Sally R says:

    In response to Martin Bulmer:

    Automata Musica is my next favorite to Satsymph because it shares some aspects like pre- composed sounds and music that are assembled in different ways by participants, making it interactive. But what I wonder is just how long it will be interesting to turn the handle of a music box. You can turn it fast or slow, at this point or that, alone or with others, but it still boils down to just turning a handle. Like one of the previous comments said: “Like any child, the toys will be played with, shaken and rattled before being abandoned as the limited musical interest wears off.”
    And, according to the composer, the music sounds nice and beautiful whatever combination the music boxes are in, so no drama or contract then!

    And a point about Satsymph. User’s experiences (journeys) can be uploaded to a Satsymph website where they can be played back and shared with anyone in the world.

    Music, even when experienced with others, remains deeply personal.

  • Paul says:

    I would really like to win that speaker system so that I can listen to some music that someone’s actually written. I vote Organ of Corti because it is truly and transparently what the others only claim to be: participatory, intriguing, and all about listening as a conscious activity.

  • Sally R says:

    And a question or two about aroundNorth.

    Pre-determined triggered sounds.

    The skill and musicality of this piece seems to be in which selected sounds the composer uses to articulate the triggers – but is this music of the spheres?

    Other triggers could be used with similar sounds – people crossing the road, traffic light changes, fat splashing randomly onto paper at the back of a cooker – in fact, any trigger could be used, but do the sounds or music produced represent people crossing the road or the fat splashing? Probably not. In the same way is the music and sounds produced by the fully automated triggers in aroundNorth actually cosmic as people are claiming? Are we ACTUALLY hearing the stars?

    I don’t think so!

    I also thought that this had been sort of done before – haven’t scientists and astrologers translated the radio waves, infra-red light and the like of pulsars and distant galaxies into pops, squeaks and tones . . . . music . . .. before?

    aroundNorth will sound more musical than those translations and the ambient sounds will be beautiful if potentailly un-dramatic, but isn’t it the same sort of process?

  • gemma says:

    Sat synth. it’s genuinely new

  • Bruce C says:

    By providing a new perspective aroundNorth engages you with powerful forces, illuminates rhythms which are taken for granted and makes you think with new clarity about your position in this world

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