Meet Next Wave Composers - Oliver Christophe Leith
27 October 2014

Oliver LeithOliver Christophe Leith

The idea for the processing of the material came from an old postcard of Porthcawl which had been hand coloured. The result was not a realistic coloured version but a strange and otherworldly transformation. Mediterranean hues on the sea and looming clouds blocked with blue. It revealed a more subjective take on the scene – one not obsessed with authenticity, truth or authorship. 
Every single note of the work (except a trailing off at the end of Veil – it was time to put down the pencil) sits, largely unchanged, in the ensemble. To begin with I felt a responsibility to the material – a degree of sensitivity to the notes. This isn't the point of hand colouring (for me), in fact this insensitive treatment of an older image is what attracted me. It defaces the original and I have defaced the material and that is fine. I treated the text as sounds and chopped and screwed it. The point is to not improve but make different. An uncomfortable reimagining where the familiar is made alien. (Zelus Familie is included in my spotify playlist for ref.)
This opportunity, for me, has allowed me to challenge my usual methods of working. I wanted to find a balance between a strict notation and a freer one. Freer is such a weird word. I had the opportunity of trialing the same material notated in two different ways. One that forced displacement of rhythms (strict) and one that simply asked players to digress from the beat. In gesture – they sounded very similar, and that magical human quality of ensemble resounded far better with the freedom. Those complex/detailed/unexpected moments, that are born of simplicity, freedom and multiple individuals, are given space to occur.
It was a liberating experience for me in which I felt immense support from all at SAM, NMC and Alwynne Pritchard and I hope to add to the series of Hand Coloured(s)…

Here is a nice hand colouring:

Hand Coloured


Listen to an extract from Oliver's hand coloured

Interview with Oliver

Oliver's Top 10 Tracks

Explore Oliver's Music Map



hand coloured is available on the Next Wave album featuring all 12 new works from the Next Wave composers.


1. Weiwei Jin: Sterna Paradisaea, Returning
2. Maya Verlaak: All Verlaak's Music is Alouette
3. Eugene Birman: The winter desert of my silences
4. Edwin Hillier: hibeh
5. Ji Sun Yang: KAIROI
6. Georgia Rodgers: partial filter
7. Ben Gaunt: Filling Rubin's Vase
8. Michael Cutting: I AM A STRANGE LOOP III
9. Oliver Christophe Leith: hand coloured
10. Barnaby Hollington: Velvet Revolution
11. Paul McGuire: Panels
12. Ryan Latimer: Moby Dick

Artists: Loré Lixenberg, Sarah Nicolls, Oren Marshall, Sound Intermedia, London Sinfonietta, Garry Walker

Download the album here.


Photo: Stuart Leech

Related Recordings


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