Donald Bousted is a composer, mixed media artist, producer, guitarist and ukulele player. His compositional work is often based on intimate explorations of one or two instruments, sometimes with electronics. In the last 20 years, he has collaborated with visual artists and sought to integrate elements of film, still images and live art into his oeuvre. He is perhaps best known for his microtonal music, which has been an interest since he was a student. He has written music using quarter- and eighth-tones, in just intonation, and a substantial body of work in 19-divison tuning (19 pitches per octave).
Donald is the founder and Artistic Director of Microtonal Projects and has had a 20 year project with Stephen Altoft called The Microtonal Trumpet. He is Musical Director of EUROMicroFest and the curator of mixed media events which have included ‘Wild Dog’ and, in 2010, a Late at Tate (Microtonal) at Tate Britain.
A number of works, including the installation with Gary O’Connor ‘broader than broadway’ and the mixed media pieces in your dreams, touch, in preparation and the black hole utilise ‘home-made’ speakers made by attaching exciters to musical instruments, glass, floorboards and walls. These pieces reflect an interest in collected sounds and our emotional reaction to sound outside its normal context.
In 2014, Donald completed his 50 minute 19.5, a work in 19 divisions of the octave, commissioned by duo Contour (Stephen Altoft, trumpet and Lee Ferguson, percussion). The 12 movement work, written for a specially designed trumpet and a malletKat (MIDI mallet instrument) is one of a number of works written for acoustic instruments using non-standard tunings. In 1995-6 he wrote a similar tour de force for two recorders in quarter-tones, the nine movement A Journey Among Travellers which was recorded, by Kathryn Bennetts and Peter Bowman, with the financial assistance of the Arts Council of Great Britain in 1998.
Donald has a PhD in musical composition from the University of Huddersfield where he worked for 8 years as a lecturer in composition from 1992 to 2000. He was a Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the London Metropolitan University in 2000-1 and has also worked as a part-time lecturer at Kingston University. He has presented his music and projects at many UK university music departments and conservatoires including the Royal College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music, Trinity College of Music, Leeds, Huddersfield, York, Keele, Goldsmith’s and Surrey universities and in America at LA MicroFest, in South Korea, in Austria at the symposium ‘Mikrotöne- Small is beautiful’, at the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel and in Germany at the Akademie der Tonkunst, Darmstadt and Staatliche Hochschulen für Musik in Freiburg and Mannheim.
He often gives joint presentations with Stephen Altoft with whom he has written a pdf book, ‘The Microtonal Trumpet’ and 24 supporting pedagogical studies, both of which are available through Microtonal Projects.
He is a joint author of The Quarter-Tone Recorder Manual (Moeck, co-authored with Kathryn Bennetts and Peter Bowman) and has composed some 22 pieces for recorder from beginners pieces to very advanced. His two collections for early grades are both represented in the current Trinity College of Music Syllabus (Grades 1 and 2).
As a producer, Donald has worked as a sound recordist and post production editor in the film industry and with a number of musicians. He has produced both of Stephen Altoft’s solo CDs The Yasser Collection and RASP.
Still from a Journey Among Travellers (two alto recorders played by Kathryn Bennetts and Peter Bowman)
she heard a song within her mother’s voice (electronic, based on sampled voices, including the composer’s)
broader than broadway (installation based on storytelling and memory with Gary O’Connor – this track was projected through large glass panels in a minimally-dressed gallery space)
for trumpet and horn in quarter-tones – video of the first performance at UK MicroFest 3
for trumpet and MalletKat in 19-div, a movement from the first group of 19.5
movement 4 of Verses – an open-ended piece for 19-division trumpet and percussion – this movement uses a vibraphone in conventional tuning