With a specialism in utilising the sound-sphere of massed voices, the work of composer and multi-instrumentalist Percy Pursglove is characterised by his collaboration with musicians and ensembles that are rarely associated with the jazz canon. For example, his recent Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival commission ‘Tender Buttons: Objects, Food, Rooms’ premiered at hcmf// 2016 has an unusual instrumental configuration of four vocalist (SATB) and two improvisers: trumpet – Percy; Drums/Electronics – Thomas Strønen. These interdisciplinary projects provide an opportunity to create music that is part improvised, part notational specificity and part notational aleatory allowing an indeterminate quality to the music.
Much of Percy’s current work is focused on developing notation systems that are accessible to non-singers and non-musicians. Using trained pitched voices alongside untrained voices essentially creates a secondary ‘noise choir’ within the conventionally notated choir, the participants of which do not necessarily need any musical ability. These new notation systems focus on using commonplace visual stimuli such as emoticons delivered through mobile apps to form accessible ‘scores’ for participants to access the music making process
Similarly, Post-Autonomous Autonomy (2016), a piece for solo trumpet performed in a Birmingham pub (March 2016) used the voices of people in the establishment to create an improvisational backdrop. A sheet of instructions guided drinkers through a 5-minute journey of “sound in time” which created a unique framework to improvise within.
In 2014 Pursglove was awarded the Jerwood/ Jazzlines fellowship which allowed him to compose Far Reaching Dreams of Mortal Souls. “A dedication to remarkable people” he says, the ninety-minute piece is based on various texts drawn from individuals including Aung San Suu Kyi, Anne Frank, Nelson Mandela, Joan of Arc and Malala Yousafzai, composed for a nine-piece chamber ensemble.