A work of art is only of interest, in my opinion, when it is an immediate and direct projection of what is happening in the depth of a person’s being…

– Jean Dubuffet

Outside Sound is a mixed-media project that takes artwork created by adults with developmental disabilities and sets it to original music. Since its start in 2012 the project has held live public concerts/gallery events in Philadelphia, Boston, and Minneapolis,  music intensive workshops at five participating art programs, and the curation of musical recordings and an art booklet. The art programs involved are Center for Creative Works in Lower Merion/Wynnewood PA, Oasis Art Center in center city Philadelphia, Outside the Lines in Medford, MA, Interact Art Center in Minneapolis, and Midwest Special Services in the greater Minneapolis area. Recently, Outside Sound has also been presented via educational workshops in several Philadelphia area schools, including Our Lady of Confidence and Horsham Quaker School which both have special needs programming.

The idea behind Outside Sound was formulated by Chris Coyle (project director and composer) after he began working with adults with developmental disabilities during the summer of 2011. Though he was conducting music workshops with the population at Center for Creative Works, it was the artwork that he saw being made there that turned his head immediately. Here was a group of creative, outwardly kind people making everything from paintings to ceramic pieces, from plaster sculptures to stop-motion animation videos. With the assistance of a dedicated staff of professional artists, the disabled participants were expressing themselves and unabashedly showing who they were, what they liked or disliked, and what they felt. Chris saw great effort and progress with the musical involvement, at the time a new endeavor at CCW, with these same participants and eventually he came to a conclusion: by combining their artwork with a musical component the art could be enhanced and could easily be showcased in a brand new way and to audiences that wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to it.

Performance and composition has long been a passion for Chris, particularly so with music that is based on inspiration from other art-forms or specific sources. He has written a piece inspired by author John Updike’s “Rabbit” series, has performed and improvised alongside silent films such as Battleship Potempkin and Nosferatu, and has performed avant original pieces and arrangements inside Philadelphia’s historic Eastern State Penitentiary. With Outside Sound, Chris now aims to bring to life the feeling, the experiences, and the eccentricities that are found in this unique artwork and within these unique individuals. The compositions are influenced by much of the music being made in his workshops in which common musical norms are often disregarded and rules broken in order to capture what the participants are hearing or physically feeling. One goal of OS is to, when possible, involve these participants in the creative musical process through recording, sampling, or performance. In his visits to each program, Chris collaborates with the artists of the selected artwork to discover the thought and/or process behind their work.

American Composers Forum supports musicians and composer across the country by providing grant funding and organizing/promoting concerts, workshops, and artist interaction. Outside Sound is currently funded by a Community Partners grant and a Subito grant that was awarded by ACF’s Philadelphia chapter in May of 2012.


Chris Coyle – project director, composer, musician

Brendan Cooney – guest musician

Matt Scarano – guest musician

Carlos Santiago – guest musician

Jon Coyle – guest musician

Jeff Ormsby – guest musician

Avi Fox, Nikolai Fox, Jovielle Gers and Chris Coyle – photography and editing

Michael Toland – film and media editing

Tom Spiker – recording engineer

All of the wonderful staff and management at CCW, Oasis, Outside the Lines, Interact Art Center and MSS!

Please read the ‘Support’ page to find out how you can contribute, follow, or spread word about Outside Sound.

“One hundred artists introduce us to one hundred worlds”

– William Baziotes


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