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Sep 2 / Ruth Montgomery blogspot

The Rocking Horse composition: Visual Vernacular, Electronic Flute Music and Deaf Culture


My new music composition for visual vernacular by artist Zöe McWhinney and electronic flute by Melissa Keeling on the theme of the rocking horse and tinnitus. 

This story links to my childhood of going to the Nuffield hospital in London for my regular hearing tests. In the middle of the waiting room there was a grand large vintage style rocking horse that children waiting for appointments could ride. This piece of work is a retrospective of going to the Nuffield. I hated my hearing tests as it often trigged tinnitus, this is where contemporary flute playing stepped in- with loops and extended techniques (note hitting/glissando head joint/reverb/blowing/wide dynamic ranges and interval runs). It has a poignant ending.

Zoe McWhinney says: 

v.v.o.m.a.n (INSTAGRAM)

Rocking Horse: Collaboration with @ruthflute and @_melissakeeling

Sound on 🔊 (to the Max for me – you can feel it on the back of your phone too)

This 🔥 is where visual artistry and electronic flute music becomes one; 🎼 score created by Ruth and performed by Melissa *after* the Visual Vernacular was composed by myself. This is the future 🌟

Rocking Horse is a piece inspired by Ruth’s experience of tinnitus triggered by going to the bleeper hearing tests and those waiting rooms with the rocking horses.

I empathise with her experience because my tinnitus is also triggered by those hearing tests 🎧 triggered because when there is uncertainty, listening so intently for any sign of the quietest sounds, that’s when your brain start mimicking the bleeps and making up other random sounds on its own, merged with the real sounds heard, giving it power. Just wanting to have it over and done with. I don’t blame my brain because it’s a void-like experience to go through. Being tested, arbitrarily for someone like me. Watched by strangers from behind one-way mirrors.

Silence in there is not like the comfortable, familiar silences I roam in everyday.

And those rocking horses seems to be everywhere in the audiologists waiting rooms, from her Kings Cross clinic to my London Bridge clinic and apparently in other audiologist clinics around the UK too.


Zoe McWhinney – Visual Vernacular UK (Deaf)
Melissa Keeling – electronic flautist from USA (Hearing)
Composed by Ruth Montgomery

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