Many Dark Actors Playing Games

Swayne, Adam

About the work

‘Many dark actors playing games’ are some of the last words written by MOD weapons expert Dr. David Kelly in an email to New York Times journalist Judith Miller shortly before his death on Harrowdown Hill in Oxfordshire on July 17th 2003.

To create the musical material for my piece I have extended the musical alphabet (A-G) to include an octave of flats (H-N), an octave of sharps (O-U) and five further natural notes (V-Z). This system has allowed me to create musical monograms based on acronyms such as ‘WMD’ and ‘UN’.

The peaceful end to this piece intones the letters of Dr. David Kelly’s name on solo vibraphone. I have been inspired to musically represent Dr. Kelly using the aluminium bars of the vibraphone after Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee accused the scientist of being ‘chaff’ (a cloud of small aluminium pieces designed to divert radar signals).

In contrast to the ending, the opening of this piece is aggressive and confrontational, and following an assertive introduction the performers engage in a musical competition. The purpose of this is to find a justification, however flimsy, for abandoning the security of the ensemble and leaving the performance platform. Indeed, if the performers cannot find any good reason for doing this, they are encouraged to improvise, or in the words of former PM Tony Blair to ‘deploy different arguments’ in favour of invading the audience space.


This work is available as a digital download. Upon purchase, you will receive a link to download PDF files and a licence that will entitle you to legally print copies of the sheet music. Nothing will be posted to you. For more information see our terms and conditions page.


score & parts


Sample score



0m 00s




Flexible Ensemble


4 parts, all instruments must be mobile Percussion (vibraphone, tenor and bass drums)
Skip to content