A drum & bass exhibition is heading to the National Science and Media Museum

A drum & bass exhibition is heading to the National Science and Media Museum

News

Bradford’s National Science and Media Museum has confirmed plans for two sound-focused exhibitions kicking off later this week, and one of them will include a look at drum & bass and jungle music.

The two exhibitions, ‘Boom: Experiments in Sound’ and ‘Sonic: Adventures in Audio’ are set to run from 23rd July through to 5th December. They will feature historically significant musical instruments such as the Fairlight CMI, Moog 900 and Oramics machine, alongside interactive audio experiences which, the museum says, “demonstrate how the science of sound is experienced in everyday life and how technological innovations have shaped the sound and music that we love”.

The ‘Sonic’ exhibition will include a 360o surround-sound jungle/drum and bass experience, dubbed ‘Drum and Bass: Time and Space’ for its first seven weeks, seeing it run through to early September. 

This particular part of the exhibition, a press release explains, “provides a chance to explore the impact of digital time-stretching technology (first made commercially available via the Akai S-series of samplers) towards the formation and shaping of musical genres such as jungle/drum and bass”.

Speaking in more detail, the exhibition’s designer Edward Wilson-Stephens said: “For me, the inclusion of a jungle/drum and bass exhibit in one of the Science Museum’s British institutions marks an important development in the role of museums and other heritage sites in the preservation and dissemination of jungle/drum and bass history.

“Although there already exists excellent and necessary social history projects and exhibitions that bring this history to life, particularly in the context of preserving and disseminating black history and the role of community spaces, the value of the technologies and musical processes that have contributed towards the formation and shaping of the music also need to be addressed.”

The audio experience will allow an amen breakbeat loop to be moved around eight speakers using a play button and joystick, immersing attendees in the set-up. The joystick movement simultaneously time-stretches the breakbeat upwards towards a jungle/drum and bass tempo, or downwards so that it plays at a very slow tempo: creating the notorious time-stretched special effect synonymous with the jungle/drum and bass genre.

A press release additionally explains that “visitors can also use six buttons to play a bassline, either by itself or alongside the breakbeat. When holding one of these buttons down, the bass will wobble in time with the position of the joystick and will, therefore, synchronise with the playback of the amen breakbeat.”

Find out more about the exhibition here.

Revisit a 2020 documentary that explored the history of drum & bass here.

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