The Deptford Grinder
Trinity College of Music, London. 28-11-2013

Original piece performed live in November 2013 at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in Greenwich, London



Ableton Live controlled via MIDI

Double bass


Sound samples recorded at the Deptford Market by Eman Carbone

Music, samples and voice recording by Eman Carbone

Original folk "The Deptford Grinder" lyrics by unknown writer(s)




The idea of this project is to recreate a “soundscape composition” based on the street market in Deptford, London, close to where I live. I’ve always been fascinated by the natural soundscape happening whenever the market takes place in Deptford High Street and I find it has an interesting vibe.

Looking for old reports and texts about the history of Deptford, by chance I came across the lyrics of an old folk song called The Deptford Grinder. Quite ironically, I then elaborated a piece which consists on sounds and voices based on real Deptford Market recordings, which I literally de-composed in order to be re-composed in a personal way, grinding them with effects and digital means.

Being also a double bass player, I decided to perform it with the instrument, so that it can also be seen as a personal sound diary of part of my life in South East London.

Genuine sounds which I personally recorded at the Market (let alone some short samples recorded within the Old Royal Naval College) get crushed and grinded, blending with my personal recitation of the song’s lyrics and effected double bass playing, which dialogues with the other elements and creates a juxtaposition.

All this work involves a very active live playing of all the elements and is entirely based on self-provided sound material.


Technique-wise, a background track of a continuous recording of the market plays throughout the piece almost until the end, whereas some shorter sound events were cut and organized in Ableton Live as triggerable short samples or pasted and warped together to create longer patterns. The lyrics were cut into 10 stanzas. A double bass is placed flat and bowed from above, captured by a mic and allocated to its own Ableton Live track.

Meanwhile, a set of effects such as EQs, compressors, limiters and gates have been assigned to some of the track for better live control and tone-tuning, whereas elements such as grain delays, heavy flangers, reverbs and erosive noisy FXs have been assigned to different degrees to the tracks. The dry/wet ratios of these elements have been assigned to the faders of the external midi controller, to alter the parameters and affect the tones during the live performance.

© 2020 - Eman Carbone