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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Composer Ben Cosgrove's Latest Work Reflects On The Motion Of Life At Sea

Max Garcia-Conover
Musician Ben Cosgrove has held residencies at Middlebury College and The Vermont Studio Center in Johnson. Last fall, he boarded a research vessel in transit from Vietnam to Australia as the artist-at-sea.

Composer and performer Ben Cosgrove writes music about natural landscapes he encounters as he drives around from place to place all over North America. But last fall, when he was the artist-at-sea onboard the Research Vessel Falkor with the Schmidt Ocean Institute, he found the only thing surrounding him was the endless ocean.

Not having landscapes to inspire his music, Cosgrove took a different tack: He set out to reconcile the constant motion of the water that could be felt aboard the ship and the sense of looking out onto a horizon that appeared perfectly still.

Cosgrove used two sets of data, both captured by systems on the research vessel, to write his piece titled, "Over/Under."

One set of data tracked the speed of the vessel over land, like a GPS, the other monitored the speed the vessel was going through water, which covered the sea floor of canyons, valleys and sea mounts.


He charted the readings and noticed that though they were always close, they never exactly matched. Cosgrove then assigned the data to correlate to sounds and wrote his song from there.

He recently spoke to VPR about "Over/Under," and his newer works.

Cosgrove is performing at the Brandon Music Center in Brandon on Feb. 25, in Colebrook, New Hampshire, on Feb. 28 and Radio Bean in Burlington on March 10.

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