Donald Bousted (1957-2021) was a composer, mixed media artist, producer, guitarist and ukulele player. His compositional work is often based on intimate explorations of one or two instruments, sometimes with electronics. From 2000, he collaborated with visual artists and sought to integrate elements of film, still images and live art into his oeuvre. He is perhaps best known for his microtonal music, which has been an interest since he was a student. He has written music using quarter- and eighth-tones, in just intonation, and a substantial body of work in 19-division tuning (19 pitches per octave).
Donald was the founder and Artistic Director of Microtonal Projects and had a 23 year project with Stephen Altoft called The Microtonal Trumpet. He was Musical Director of EUROMicroFest and the curator of mixed media events which have included ‘Wild Dog’ and, in 2010, a Late at Tate (Microtonal) at Tate Britain.
A number of works, including the installation with Gary O’Connor ‘broader than broadway’ and the mixed media pieces in your dreams, touch, in preparation and the black hole utilise ‘home-made’ speakers made by attaching exciters to musical instruments, glass, floorboards and walls. These pieces reflect an interest in collected sounds and our emotional reaction to sound outside its normal context.
In 2014, Donald completed his 57 minute 19.5, a work in 19 divisions of the octave, commissioned by duo Contour (Stephen Altoft, trumpet and Lee Ferguson, percussion). The 12 movement work, written for a specially designed trumpet and a malletKat (MIDI mallet instrument) is one of a number of works written for acoustic instruments using non-standard tunings. In 1995-6 he wrote a similar tour de force for two recorders in quarter-tones, the nine movement A Journey Among Travellers which was recorded, by Kathryn Bennetts and Peter Bowman, with the financial assistance of the Arts Council of Great Britain in 1998.
Donald completed a PhD in musical composition from the University of Huddersfield where he worked for 8 years as a lecturer in composition from 1992 to 2000. He was a Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the London Metropolitan University in 2000-1 and also worked as a part-time lecturer at Kingston University. He presented his music and projects at many UK university music departments and conservatoires including the Royal College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music, Trinity College of Music, Leeds, Huddersfield, York, Keele, Goldsmith’s and Surrey universities and in America at LA MicroFest, in South Korea, in Austria at the symposium ‘Mikrotöne- Small is beautiful’, at the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel and in Germany at the Akademie der Tonkunst, Darmstadt and Staatliche Hochschulen für Musik in Freiburg and Mannheim.
He often gave joint presentations with Stephen Altoft with whom he wrote a pdf book, ‘The Microtonal Trumpet’ and 24 supporting pedagogical studies, both of which are available through Microtonal Projects.
He was a joint author of ‘The Quarter-Tone Recorder Manual’ (Moeck, co-authored with Kathryn Bennetts and Peter Bowman) and composed some 22 pieces for recorder from beginners pieces to very advanced. His two collections for early grades are both represented in the Trinity College of Music Syllabus (Grades 1 and 2).
As a producer, Donald worked as a sound recordist and post production editor in the film industry and with a number of musicians. He produced all three of Stephen Altoft’s solo CDs and digital albums The Yasser Collection, RASP, and Time Dreaming.
In 2017, Donald turned his attention to the ukulele, an instrument he was drawn to for its sound. He released his first CD in 2020, The New Classical Ukulele, followed by Barry Tone’s Fantastic Adventures (2021), and then the digital album, Cross/Over. In July, 2021 he recorded 2 Suites for Ukulele by Gilbert Isbin which is available on BANDCAMP. Many composers wrote pieces for him including Gilbert Isbin, Jim Dalton, Hilary Robinson, Loretta K. Notareschi, Dimitri van Halderen, Martin Bright, Geoff Cox, Stephen Altoft, Choan Gálvez, Peter Thompson, Jane Wells, Nickos Harizanos, James Else and Alan Bullard. He had duo projects with percussionist Lee Ferguson and recorder player Celia Ireland.