Iain Chambers inside the bascule chambers © Steve Stills


Composer Iain Chambers explains his work for the Totally Thames Festival to be performed inside Tower Bridge.

He writes: "'Bascule Chambers' was inspired by the recording made by Ian Rawes of The London Sound Survey of Tower Bridge being lifted, recorded from within the bascule chamber itself. To my ears this recording wasn't just heavy machinery in action, it was definitely a ready-made piece of music that needed recognising as such and presenting to the public.

"The timbre and pitches made by the bridge sounded like brass instruments to me, so it made sense to continue this musical opening with brass, and to try and blur the lines between which sounds were being emitted by the bridge, and which played by brass musicians. The third element was to present the piece within the bascule chamber itself, so that the live sounds in the moment heard within that very resonant space would also mesh with the brass and the pre-recorded bridge.

"It hadn't occurred to me that this was a feasible, or safe, concert location, but Totally Thames Festival put me right on this, and put me in touch with the team at Tower Bridge, who have been extremely supportive right from the start.

"The audience should expect - first of all - to be completely awed by the bascule chamber itself. I've taken quite a few different people down there in preparation for these concerts, and there's consistently a reaction of amazement and awe at the size, grandeur, and sheer Victorian-ness of this vast cavern.

" It's a real privilege to see, particularly when you remember this is a fully operational building, and that we have to fit in the concerts in between bridge lifts, when the chamber is filled with the counterweights of Tower Bridge. Secondly, the audience should come with their ears open to all the sounds around them, particularly those not traditionally considered musical. They are all a part of this piece, and of the 3 other pieces in the concert."

More on Iain Chambers' blog HERE

Story dated July 28th 2015