Snap happy

Manuella Blackburn

Snap happy has been performed in Birmingham, Brussels, Denton, Leuk, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Mount Lawley, New York City and Sofia…

Snap happy is a collection of three miniatures exploring the sounds of cameras. Older cameras from around the 1940s (Kodak Brownie cameras) provided heavier clicks and clunks from their internal mechanisms. Contemporary cameras provided sounds of flashes, zooms, digital functions and focus lenses. All these sounds tended to be short in duration, enabling me to continue my interest in building compositions from miniature, barely there sound materials. Listening to many cameras demonstrated how distinctive different brands could be. I became acquainted with the Canon AE-1 program, which appeared to ‘cough’ with each photo taken. It was fascinating to listen to modern cameras (including camera functions on phones), which use camera shutter sound effects to indicate the taking of a ‘snap shot.’ Older functions of winding a camera film, opening up a camera back and cartridge chamber, along with winding mechanisms are sounds that feature in this work. This composition is part of a series of pieces looking at ‘domestic’ sound sources, where sound objects are chosen for being a personal possessions, as found around the home.


Snap happy was realized in 2016-17 at the composer’s studio in Manchester (England, UK) and premiered on March 4, 2017 during the MANTIS Festival March 2017 at the John Thaw Studio Theatre of the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama at The University of Manchester (England, UK). Thanks to Francis Voce at Liverpool Hope University for contributing his time and knowledge of cameras.


  • March 4, 2017, MANTIS Spring Festival 2017: Concert 1, John Thaw Studio Theatre — Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama — The University of Manchester, Manchester (England, UK)



Snap happy (2016-17), 8:45
stereo fixed medium



Date Work Program
November 15, 2017 Manuella Blackburn, Snap happy (2016-17), 8:45 Fantaasia / Klassikaraadio (Estonia)
January 29, 2018 Manuella Blackburn, Snap happy (2016-17), 8:45 Acoustic Frontiers / CKCU 93.1 FM (Canada)
December 9, 2018 Manuella Blackburn, Snap happy (2016-17), 8:45 Difficult Listening / RTR 92.1 FM (Australia)
July 7, 2019 Manuella Blackburn, Snap happy (2016-17), 8:45 RTQE / WORT 89.9 FM (USA)
November 10, 2020 Manuella Blackburn, Snap happy (2016-17), 8:45 Moacrealsloa / Radio Panik 105.4 (Belgium)