My Broken Machines

Bennett, Ed

About the work

One of my earliest memories growing up in an Irish seaside town is that of Barry’s Amusements. Laughing policemen, mechanical fortune tellers, tests of strength, ghost trains and an array of other eccentric machines brought this dark but strangely attractive emporium of fun to life. Over the years as the town modernised, less and less people visited this living museum until only the machines occupied it. Eventually the machines broke down and Barry’s with them. The building stood unoccupied for years and I often walked past and imagined this crazy carnival continuing inside while the unsuspecting public continued about their daily lives. Today a modern hotel stands on the site where Barry’s once stood and in waves of nostalgia I often wonder what happened to all of those broken machines.

First Performance: Spitalfields Festival, CoMA London 2007

Technical notes

The most important aspect of this piece is the possibility of extremes. The quiet parts should be very quiet and the loud parts very loud. Players should try their best to follow the vertical alignment in the score, but accidents may make for a more exciting music. The overall effect desired is a layering of aggressive and calm.


Open Score 2004 Commissioned by Diana Burrell, artistic director of Open Score 2004


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score & parts


Sample score



7m 30s




Flexible Ensemble with Keyboard


3 instruments, pf, perc
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