Donald Bousted is a composer, mixed media artist, guitarist and ukulele player. His work is often based on intimate explorations of one or two instruments, sometimes with electronics. In the work of 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, 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 joint author, with Stephen Altoft of 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 both an interest in the categorization and collection of sounds and our emotional reaction to sounds outside their 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 (1992-2000). 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 including the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music, in America at LA MicroFest, in South Korea, in Austria at ‘Mikrotöne- Small is beautiful’ Symposium 2017, at the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel and in Germany at the Akademie der Tonkunst, Darmstadt and the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg. He often gives joint presentations, with Stephen Altoft, on the microtonal trumpet. He is a joint author of The Microtonal Recorder Manual (Moeck, co-authored with Kathryn Bennetts and Peter Bowman).
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, icluding the composer’s)
broader than broadway (installation based on storytelling and memory using recollections by Gary O’Connor – this track was projected through large glass panels in a minimally-dressed gallery space)
Duo-1 (for trumpet and horn in quarter-tones – first performance at UK MicroFest 3)
MAJ (for trumpet and MalletKat in 19-div, a movement from the first group of 19.5)
VERSES 4 (movement 4 of Verses – an open-ended piece for 19-division trumpet and persussion – this movement uses a vibraphone in conventional tuning)