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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Blood Choir

Kefala-Kerr, John (2017) Blood Choir. 2016, Participatory Arts Project.

Item Type: Show/Exhibition


Blood Choir is a new musical work created by converting blood glucose readings into musical notes. The work explores blood as a symbol of affiliation, disease, ethnicity, violence and sacrifice.


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Additional Information: Supported by a grant (£18,850) from Newcastle Cultural Investment Fund, the compositional research entailed gathering blood glucose test readings from diabetics (including Kefala-Kerr) and mapping the resultant numerical values onto musical notes. The strict chronological ordering of these readings, and their resultant presentation as musical notes, yields a ‘blood narrative’ that not only dramatises Kefala-Kerr’s own successes and failures as a diabetic (along with those of the other contributors), but also enables the work’s haematological resonances to chime more broadly with everyday circumstances: a correlation that is engineered through a ‘timely’ alignment with contemporaneous events at the time of the work’s development—the war in Syria, UK anxieties over migration, ethnicity, violence and the diabetes epidemic. In performance, the singers themselves draw blood: testing their glucose levels and singing the corresponding pitches. The consumption of foodstuffs elevates these pitches and propels the music towards increasing levels of sonic viscosity, vocal intensity and auditory violence. Public involvement in the creation of the work underpinned the research’s rigour in terms of its pursuit of a ‘composed quotidian’: a novel conception whereby musical composition is seen as irreducibly invested in, and informed by, the ‘mishmash’ of everyday life. In Blood Choir this quotidian proximity was bolstered by the direct participation of Diabetes UK support group members, adult learners (Better Days Group), migrants (JET), primary school children, and augmented by a national call-out via the project website. As a creative methodological approach, ‘Composing the Quotidian’ (CTQ) arises out of Kefala-Kerr’s interest in the everyday role of musical composition and its relevance to, and relationship with, ‘the ordinary’. Blood Choir was first performed by the 2016 National Choir of the Year—VOH, and was the subject of an article published in the journal Sounding Board.
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Depositing User: John Kefala-Kerr


Item ID: 7003
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Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2017 14:19
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2021 11:01


Author: John Kefala-Kerr

University Divisions

Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries
Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries > School of Media and Communications


Performing Arts > Music
Performing Arts

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