The idea for sound first came about in 2004 when Mark Hope (Woodend Barn) and Pete Stollery (University of Aberdeen) got together to discuss how to bring more new music events to the north-east of Scotland.

In November 2004, a small four-day pilot festival (Upbeat!) was organised to gauge local interest. It included performances by Graham Fitkin, Ruth Wall and Ensemble Bash.

In 2005, the inaugral soundfestival was launched. In that first year, we found the flexible model we wanted, programming over 20 days with concerts across Aberdeen and shire. Music included Evelyn Glennie and the BBC SSO performing Sally Beamish’s Trance O’Nicht, the Edinburgh Quartet performing new works by Naresh Sohal and Kenneth Dempster, Bill Thompson, McKenzie Medboe and La Boum! An afternoon’s rehearsal and informal performance of James MacMillan’s Into the Ferment by a scratch community orchestra of local musicians aged from 11 to 88 years old, conducted by the composer, proved to be the most intensive and involving event.

In that initial year, our network of partner organisations had started to fall into place with Woodend Music Society, Aberdeen Jazz, Interesting Music Promotions, Monymusk Arts, Angus Arts, Strathdee Music Club and of course the University of Aberdeen and Woodend Barn all supporting the festival.

Over the years, the festival has morphed as we adapted and adjusted it. It has been as long as five weeks, and as short as 10 days. Spaces used for performances have changed as local arts organisations have taken part in some years and not in others. In 2008 we started doing themed weekends, allowing us to focus in on certain music or ideas over a few days.

The festival is now settled at 5-6 days, and is still programmed in a broad fashion with the participation of our partner network. We have grown over the years to become Scotland’s leading festival of new music, and sound itself has developed into a new music organisation with events and workshops throughout the year as well as during the annual festival.