New music for the new normal: Creatively overcoming challenges of lockdown

Pete Stollery, Pauline Black

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


This paper aims to document and analyse the response to lockdown and social isolation from sound, a new music incubator, whose energies are normally focussed on an annual 12-day festival.The UK Government’s responses to the COVID-19 outbreak regarding restriction of the spread of the virus led to an almost total cessation of creative activity for composers and performers and a cutting back of the experience of live music opportunities for audiences during 2020. Through several projects, such as the COVID-19 Sound Map, virtual networking events for composers, signposting of online music making apps and resources for school children and families, sound explored and utilized new technologies enabling a re-imagining of personal, social and musical experience in new music making and sharing, drawing together strands of music, wellbeing, education and technology. This paper focuses on sound’s Lockdown Composing project, created in response to the needs of composers who had lost creative outlet or employment since the restrictions began. Workshops were held with composers, exploring ways of creatively harnessing the constraints of the video conferencing platform Zoom, to form their compositions. The project culminated in a live performance by an ensemble of ten musicians, based across Scotland. This digitized new experience of ‘live’ is discussed alongside the process of composing, rehearsing and performing in ‘real time’. The paper draws on examples from composers, performers and audience members discussing coping strategies, experiences and potential future directions for composers, performers and organisations such as sound.The Lockdown Composing project and new experience of ‘live’ was found to be beneficial for all parties, enhancing social, personal and musical aspects. Creative application of the technologies used has led to potential new directions for composers, leading to further virtual online collaborations with a Canadian ensemble.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Music, Health and Wellbeing
Issue numberSpecial Issue
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2021


  • new music
  • distributed performance
  • North East Scotland
  • Musician wellbeing


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