A protest from twenty-six years ago
Today we can hear the oldest recording in our Protest and Politics project, and one of the earliest recordings on Cities and Memory.
Going back to January 1991, here’s a protest in Washington DC against the first Gulf War, two days after the commencement of the US-led air war against Iraq, recorded by Tom Miller.
It’s a rare recording we’re lucky to have, and it’s interesting to look for similarities or differences in how we protest over a quarter of a century.
Simon Woods brings the recording bang up to date, transforming it into a flashy news broadcast that’s very much from 2017:
“The basic concept for the piece is the protest and the news reporting of the protest. The protest sounds make up the basic rhythm of the whole piece.
“The orchestra represents the news reporting. It takes the rhythm of the protest but tries to drown out the voices so they cannot be heard except on the news’ terms.
“The protest voices do go away, but return later as protests do. The heroic trumpet represents the military who use emotion to quell protest – the patriotism argument.
“The drum machine rhythm is a nod to Paul Hardcastle’s anti-war “19” – although the rhythm is quite different. It is the only electronic instrument in the piece.
“The pounding drums represent the war which is going on. I find it fascinating that a drum rhythm and voices/sounds playing in a protest in 1991 in Washington, USA can influence a piece of music composed in 2017 in the UK.”