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Alex Lewis Whitaker

Digital Music and Sound Arts graduate wins award from Japan

Alex Lewis-Whitaker has won the Nagoya University of the Arts Award of Excellence 2021 for his final degree show project, entitled Wɔpo.

Alex graduated this year with Digital Music and Sound Art BA(Hons), and drew on his mixed English and Asante (Ghanaian) heritage to create a degree show work comprising both a live performance piece and a digital ‘mindmap’ to build bridges between his ancestral lineages.

Wɔpo draws together diverse elements including the ‘doo-wop’ music of mid-20th century African-American communities and ‘ɔpo’, the Asante-Twi word for ‘ocean’ – a reference to the voices of Alex’s ancestors that were drowned or drowned out during the shipment of enslaved people across the Atlantic from Africa.

Speaking about his time at Brighton, Alex said: “Many courses in this area seemed more focused on the technical considerations within a recording studio, whereas Brighton allowed me to interpret the course how I wanted to and take it in my own direction. There was an emphasis on pushing boundaries in terms of both content and format, so it was exciting to see how the initial ideas for my final project evolved, under the guidance of my tutors, into the multi-dimensional experience that it became.”

The Nagoya judging panel, Professor Takuo Goto and Professor Yoichi Tamura, said: “Today, an illusion that a world as a mixture of cultures is in front of us – [with] a history of various disasters in the process leading up to it…. To refer to and confront such a past is to rhyme, resonate the sound, and generate noise. Alex Lewis-Whitaker’s work taught that these might be effective measures. [His] consideration of the technical part such as advanced research and introduction of skilful music format is also excellent.”

Digital sketchbook by Alex Lewis Whitaker

Alex’s earlier audiovisual project Morgo was recently broadcast as part of The Joyous Thing, hosted by the experimental music network Outlands – which Alex called “an exciting experience made possible thanks to my tutors and the DMSA network”.

Alex on Instagram
Alex on YouTube
Alex on Bandcamp

Listen to a selection of work by other students and alumni from the DMSA course.

Catherine Johnson • August 16, 2021

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