Alex South

  • Artist

Alex South is a clarinettist, improviser and composer, currently carrying out doctoral research into humpback whale song considered as a music-like phenomenon. Supervised by composer Emily Doolittle at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and biologists Luke Rendell and Ellen Garland at the University of St Andrews, Alex uses quantitative and qualitative methods drawn from bioacoustics and zoömusicology to study temporal aspects of humpback song structure, performance and evolution, and creates and performs new music informed by these studies. He is seeking to develop an understanding of how the use of animal song in human music can encourage an ‘animalcentric anthropomorphism’ in opposition to anthropocentrism.

Alongside his PhD work, Alex plays clarinet and bass clarinet with the Scottish Clarinet Quartet, The One Ensemble, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, Sound of Yell, Collective Endeavours and Ensemble Thing, with pre-pandemic performances at Celtic Connections, Counterflows, Cultural Olympiad (Rio), Dance International Glasgow, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, GIOfest, Glasgow International Jazz Festival, Hidden Door, Plug, and Tectonics. His collaboration ‘Rough Breathing’ with Nichola Scrutton was shortlisted in the 2020 Scottish Awards for New Music. He is currently working with violist Katherine Wren and poet Lesley Harrison on a programme of music inspired by whale song and the cultures of the North Atlantic: their next performance will be part of ‘Sound’ festival in October 2021. Alex is an Associate Teacher of clarinet for the University of St Andrews.

Alex’s live performances and recordings with these and other groups and soloists including Daniel Padden, Evan Parker, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 6, and Resonance FM.

Research Interests

Animal Culture, Bioacoustics, Cetology, Composition, Cultural Evolution, Empirical Musicology, Humpback Whale Song, Improvisation, New Music, Performance, Zoömusicology