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December 8, 2023

Showcase: Claire Gorman on Gravitating Towards What Lights You Up

Showcase is our brand new feature all about individuals doing inspiring creative work across the country. This week we spoke to experimental musician and creative facilitator Claire Gorman.

Claire loves playing with people, writing tunes, creating sound-worlds, instigating small musical happenings and facilitating joyful participatory experiences. She has recently run workshops for Perth Theatre, Art Night, Soundplay Projects and the University of Dundee. She plays with free-improvisation group el search and has just released a chapbook of text scores called Music in Bushes.


Could you tell me about an experience that really solidified for you that you wanted to become a musician?

I don’t think I ever made a clear decision to become a musician. I’ve always just been really into music, and one thing has led to another. Deciding to study music at uni was a big step, but even then I just saw it as a way to get a loan and allow myself time to focus on something I loved doing. No career plans! I feel incredibly lucky though, that I’m now able to earn a living from doing what I love.

I love the idea behind Music in Bushes, could you tell the readers a bit more about what it is and how it came about?

Music in Bushes is a chapbook of text scores to be played in a bush. The pieces can be performed by anyone, regardless of musical experience or background, and explore ways we might connect with nature through listening and sound-making. Connecting with nature through listening and sound-making is something that humans have always done: The Kaluli in Papua New Guinea improvise with the soundscape of the rainforest; the Sami express the essence of the lifeforms around them through sound; the Yolngu in Australia listen deeply to the rivers, animals and winds and “sing the actual land and the sea” – From the book Song Spirals: Sharing Women’s Wisdom Of Country Through Songlines by the Gay’wu Group of Women. Similar practices would have happened here in the past too, but have obviously fallen out of fashion in more recent times. I wanted to find a way to re-seed these ideas and practices within our culture – Music in Bushes is the result!

How do you conceive of new projects? Is there a process or do you wait for inspiration to strike?

There are definitely things I do to get ideas flowing: reading books about things I’m interested in, listening to music, walking in nature, going on wee trips, chatting with like-minded people…caffeine helps too.

What are your top 3 favourite sounds? 

At the moment I’m learning the clarinet and I really love the sound of the lowest note. Also the flutter of a sparrow’s wing, and the honking of geese overhead.

What advice would you give to readers who want to foster a regular creative practice if they’re new to it?

Create regular time and space for yourself, and fill it with fun. Allow yourself to gravitate toward anything that lights you up and allow yourself to play.

What’s been inspiring you lately? 

Phil Minton – he’s this incredible vocalist who explores the full range of sounds the human voice can make – hissing, sobbing, screeching, gargling and so on. He taps into what he calls ‘pre-cultural’ sound-making, which I find really fascinating. It’s exhilarating to listen to and to sing along with…

You have a brilliant Pecha Kucha talk about the Hokey Cokey. How did you start to get interested in it? 

I’ve always loved the Hokey Cokey and noticed that some of the happiest moments of my adult life have occurred whilst doing the Hokey Cokey. When I looked into its history, I found that it dates back to at least medieval times, and is part of a tradition of circle dancing that goes back to the beginning of human time… There is definitely a very special, primal joy that comes from synchronising with others in sound and movement, and I wanted to explore that further…

Our next interviewee will be someone in the creative industries, they could be an illustrator, performer, sculptor, etc… do you have a question you’d like us to pass on to them?

What do you like to do outwith your main art form for rest, relief or inspiration?

Thanks Claire!

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Showcase: Claire Gorman on Gravitating Towards What Lights You Up