Music for Human Face: Composing For This Familiar, New Instrument

Project leader:
Joshua Frederic Spear

Project period:
2018 – 2021

Research centre:

Artistic research

Composition, Contemporary music

Fellowship project
Ph.D. in Artistic Research

For Spear sound is a result of movement, one cannot go without the other. The mouth fascinates him as a body part that eats, drinks, forms speech, communicates, signs, breathes, is a sexual organ, and will provide the main inspiration for this project.

Sound and movement

It is a meeting place of sound and movement and this project will reflect that idea through a symbiotic approach, whereby sound and movement are considered together at the outset.

Spear is proposing a composer-led project, consisting of a number of substantial pieces and documentation of well-structured collaborative projects with a commentary. It will be an experimental body of far-reaching work exploring this conceptual approach applied to composing for choir, voice, ensembles, instrumentalists, lighting, video, facial recognition tech, costume, dancers, drag queens, makeup artists, puppeteers, dancers, and theatre practitioners.

This project is the culmination of ideas and thinking that began in 2014 when Spear was developing a solo and collaborative practice as a composer-performer. Spear is fascinated by the effect and necessary precision present in lipsync, foley, and mime and how the absence of live sound can still be considered a piece of live sound-led work.


Artists and groups that Spear identify as predecessors to this idea are Thierry De Mey, Jennifer Walshe, Simon Steen Andersen, Burrows and Fargion, and John Moran. His unique approach to this will be to create sound-led work with performers who are not necessarily musicians, where music performance is not necessarily the activity, where conventional performance or performers, and even live sound, are not present. He finds particular inspiration in Sport, Dance, and Physical Theatre also and will investigate how processes from those disciplines can be applied to musical composition to create original work.


Through working with non-musical performers, Spear will hopefully be adding resilience to the form and the repertoire. In our internet-aware cultural landscape, his work and research will impact the new music scene, and cultivate a greater audience, uniting audiences from traditionally more separate disciplines.


Project leader

Joshua Frederic Spear

Joshua Frederic Spear

Research Fellow


Last updated: 13. August 2018