Final Times

Alistair MacDonald

Final Times has been performed in Montréal and San Francisco…

Final Times is a piece of ‘cinema for the ears’ based on sounds I recorded in the city of Glasgow, where I live and work. It is a vibrant city. We hear cars, buses, trains and particularly the subway carriages’ distinctive shrieking of metal wheels on rails. The title is heard in the shout of a newspaper seller and there are more voices with local accents in the street, a football crowd and a lively pub. There is the rhythmic clicking of an escalator in Glasgow’s huge, Victorian railway station and the clatter of a train crossing tracks. The sounds and the images they conjure are reshaped and transmute, so that shapes shift, and new colours emerge. The clacking of the escalator becomes a train rattling on rails; voices are stretched into the hum and squeal of the subway train, which returns in the sound of a distant bagpiper on the street, shimmering like heat haze over the city.


Final Times was realized in 1998 in the studios of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD). It was first broadcast on BBC Radio in March 1998 and first performed on April 4, 1998 during the See Hear! concert of the Rumours… 98 concert series produced by BEAST in the Foyle Studio of the Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham (UK). The piece was commissioned by the BBC for Radio Scotland.


Final Times (1998), 5:04
stereo fixed medium



Date Work Program
October 1, 2018 Alistair MacDonald, Final Times (1998), 5:04 O Domínio dos Deuses / Rádio Universitária do Minho (Portugal)
November 6, 2018 Alistair MacDonald, Final Times (1998), 5:04 Klangwelten / Eldoradio (Germany)
December 6, 2018 Alistair MacDonald, Final Times (1998), 5:04 Stranger than Paradise 190 / Radio Q37 (USA)
March 19, 2019 Alistair MacDonald, Final Times (1998), 5:04 The Langham Research Centre Show / Resonance 104.4 FM (UK)
September 19, 2019 Alistair MacDonald, Final Times (1998), 5:04 Battiti: Impronte digitali / Rai Radio 3 (Italy)