GFAAW Silent Key


Programme notes

"GFAAW" was the call sign of the airship R101 which, a few hours into its first high profile voyage, crashed in bad weather at night. The ship caught fire and was destroyed, with the loss of all passengers and all but six crew members. The UK airship programme was terminated as a consequence.

During the flight, the ship's officers communicated with the base at Cardington by means of radio. After the crash, a spiritualist medium claimed to receive messages from the captain detailing faults with the ship. My piece explores aspects of communication: coded or verbal, clear or unreadable - messages passed through the aether.

GFAAW Silent Key was written for Zoë Irvine's exhibition Radio 101. It was broadcast from the BCA Gallery in Bedford on the 74th anniversary of the crash, as part of a special programme lasting 7 hrs 23 mins - the precise duration of the flight.


GFAAW Silent Key was commissioned by Zoë Irvine for Radio 101, funded by Bedford Creative Arts and Arts Council England.

Thanks to Paul Mullineaux and Alan Marsden for their generosity in recording the texts.


  • BCA Gallery, Bedford, England, in Radio 101, 4 October 2004
  • Scarborough, England, at Expo 966, 19 June 2005
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil, at FILE Electronic Language International Festival FILE 2005 Symposium Hipersonica, October 2005
  • CBSO Centre, Birmingham, England, as part of Travels in Time and Space, 31 May 2009
  • Seventh International Conference on Music since 1900 (LancMAC) listening room, Lancaster University, England, 29-30 July 2011
  • Broadcast in the programme Acoustic Frontiers on CKCU-FM Ottawa, Canada, 27 August 2012

Forthcoming Performances

  • Mar del Plata, Argentina, as part of Imagen & Resonancia, Foundation Destellos, Cycle of Sonic Art