Music funding announced for fellow-primates

Music funding announced for fellow-primates


norman lebrecht

April 01, 2014

Message received

Trumpeter to Teach Gibbons the Blues

BBRSC and Arts Council to fund project by Nick Malcolm on Gibbon Island at Bristol Zoo

STRICTLY EMBARGOED TILL 00.01am on April 1st 2014

nick malcolm

Bristol-based trumpeter / composer Nick Malcolm will be involved in a pioneering ear-training project with the two gibbons at Bristol Zoo. He will work with the pair, named Samuel and Duana, on Gibbon Island at the zoo every day for six weeks, starting today, according to a joint statement from Bristol Zoo, and the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) and Arts Council England, who will jointly be funding the work.

The project will involve taking a musical phrase based on the BBSRC acronym (Bb / Bb / Eb / D / C ) and teaching it to the gibbons.

lt lead to an academic paper in peer-reviewed journal Nature, and also to a live event on Gibbon Island with Malcolm’s quartet, featuring rising jazz star, pianist Alexander Hawkins.


Nick Malcolm

Nick Malcolm is a trumpeter/composer based in Bristol. His quartet will be on tour playing material from his second album Beyond these Voices after this work is completed, from May 21st . Dates from He comments: “I am very honoured to receive this grant. There is already extensive work on gibbon vocalisation (Geissmann, 1999; Geissmann & Orgeldinger, 2000; Haimoff, 1984; Leighton, 1987), but this will be, I believe, the first attempt to teach them a blues riff in C. Subsequent research may involve the gibbons teaching me their advanced brachiation techniques.”


BBSRC is the lead funding agency for academic research and training in the biosciences at universities and institutes throughout the UK, Dr April Day said. We had a sneak preview of the track “It’s Alright, we’re Going to the Zoo” from Nick’s next album ‘Beyond these Voices’ and we thought he the was right person to carry out this exciting work, and to document the results.“

Arts Council England

For Arts Council England, spokesman Roland Poisson said: “Two aspects of Nick’s proposal really grabbed us. Firstly, we love site-specific work. Secondly, work with gibbons has always tended to cross art-forms – from ‘The Cries of London’ in the early seventeenth century and the carvings in St Pauls Cathedral in the 1690s, through to the ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ (1776-88), stamp collecting and ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ (1932). We look forward to Nick Malcolm building on this important legacy and engaging new audiences in an innovative way with this work at Bristol Zoo.”


  • Tony Mazzaferro says:

    Note the “Strictly Embargoed Till” date…

  • Tim Benjamin says:

    Roland Poisson 🙂

  • Dave K says:

    After yellow gibbons, will there be a similar project for red herrings?

  • Nick Malcolm is on tour with Jazz Services’ funding support throughout May – no guarantee on the gibbons, sadly…