Martyn Ware (Human League, Heaven 17)
English musician, composer, arranger, record producer, and music programmer Martyn Ware was born 19 May 1956. Ware began his musical career In the 1970s, when he and synth player Ian Marsh teamed up to play as The Future and then as the Dead Daughters. In 1977 they formed The Human League with vocalist Philip Oakey and soon added Adrian Wright as “Director of Visuals” to create slide shows for their performances. They recorded a demo and signed with the Indie label Fast in 1978. The band was commercially and artistically successful, issuing “Being Boiled” as their first single, but Ware and Marsh left in 1980 over internal tensions, forming the British Electronic Foundation.
The British Electric Foundation was an experimental production project that employed artists including Tina Turner, Sandie Shaw, and Gary Glitter. The band’s first album in 1980 was the instrumental cassette-only release Music for Stowaways, followed in 1982 by Music of Quality and Distinction, Vol. 1 which featured vocalist Glenn Gregory. By this time, Ware and Marsh had already teamed with Gregory to form Heaven 17. Their first release was the single “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang,” which was banned by the BBC. In 1983 they released the hit song “Temptation” which reached #2 on the music charts. The band went on hiatus in 1988, but reformed in 1990 and released Music of Quality and Distinction, Vol. 2. In 2005 Marsh left the band, but Ware and Gregory continued production.
More recently, Ware has collaborated with Vince Clarke (as The Clarke & Ware Experiment) on two music projects; the Pretentious album (1999), and Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle (2001). He has also contributed programmes to Internet radio stations. Ware also completes sound installations as a “sonic muralist”. In 2016 he released an 82-minute soundscape called Sounds of Our Shores, made up of sea coast sound clips sent in by the public. He also curated and produced ‘Everything You Can Imagine Is Real’ for the UK’s National Portrait Gallery in 2017, to coincide with their Picasso Portraits exhibition. The event was inspired by Picasso’s circle in Montmartre in the first decade of the 20th century. He arranged for the gallery becomes an artists’ colony featuring a wild cross-pollination of ideas, music, poetry, performance, art, film and dance. It included acts as diverse as the Radiophonic Workshop, Scanner, Feral Five and White Noise.
Ware created a 3D surround sound auditorium for the National Centre for Popular Music in Sheffield – a museum of contemporary music and culture, launched with £15 million of National Lottery money, which opened in March 1999 and closed in July 2000. BBC News described the centre as having been “shunned” by visitors, and, despite a £2 million relaunch, the Centre closed. Despite this, Ware later used the surround sound technology to launch an Arts Council subsidised touring project called “The Future of Sound”.Ware’s 3D music has also been used in an unusual noise suppression experiment undertaken in Brighton in 2011 on behalf of the Noise Abatement Society (NAS). During this experiment, which was an entry for the John Connell Technology Award, a six-point sound field was created using ethereal sound textures. This was played in the main shopping street in the city, West Street, with the intention of distracting people from the traffic noise.
In the meantime, film made of the street during the time the sound was being produced was analysed by the psychobiologist Harry Witchel to assess whether the ambient sound made any difference to hearers’ behaviour Early results suggested that it did have a beneficial effect for the public both during the day and anecdotal evidence suggested it served as a calming influence during the “clubbers rush” in the evening. Suggestions have been made that the experiment could be rolled out more widely in the future.
As a founding member of both The Human League and Heaven 17, Ware was partly responsible for hit songs such as “Being Boiled” and “Temptation. Ware has also worked as a record producer, notably helping to revitalise Tina Turner’s career in 1983 with “Let’s Stay Together”, kick starting Terence Trent D’Arby’s career by co-producing his solo debut, Introducing the Hardline According to… in 1987 and producing Erasure’s I Say I Say I Say album in 1994.