Study Day on Computer Simulation of Musical Creativity

Some of my research has been selected for display in the Study Day on Computer Simulation of Musical Creativity at the University of Huddersfield in the form of an academic poster (see image below). This is not the first time I have presented on this topic, I discussed this particular subject at the PGR Symposium in 2013. I have also written about it on this website before. Poster Abstract In this presentation, I discuss my current composition Interstice, the ‘form’ of which relies on the participation of an interactive audience via the internet and an iPhone ‘app’. Due to a specific … Continue reading Study Day on Computer Simulation of Musical Creativity

Considering Expression as Compositional Material: ‘Improvisation is the Middle Ground between Composing and Performing’ or ‘Using Improvisation in Live Performance as a Compositional Technique’

Tomorrow I will present the following at a postgraduate conference in Leeds: Defining compositional material is not straightforward. Much of existing literature suggests there are many varied perspectives on this that are ultimately dependent upon each individual composer’s personal approach to writing music. As such, it can be argued that compositional material is an individual strategy for composing. Taking on this perspective, and with reference to my own work, this presentation explores a personal definition for compositional material by way of a particular compositional approach: improvisation. It is my current hypothesis that improvisation not only embodies a middle ground between … Continue reading Considering Expression as Compositional Material: ‘Improvisation is the Middle Ground between Composing and Performing’ or ‘Using Improvisation in Live Performance as a Compositional Technique’

Upcoming Performance: Centre Stage concert series

I will be performing in the Centre Stage concert series in February. The following works will be premiered: ‘…it’s (al[l]/[ready]) been done!’ (2013), fixed-media electronics ‘It sounds an isochronism.’  (2015), solo piano and  fixed-media electronics ‘Read between the…’ (2013), fixed-media electronics To Rave in a Fifteenth-Century Discotheque from another Time Entirely.  (2015), solo string instrument and fixed-media electronics The concert will also feature work from other female composers, details of which can be found on the following poster (photo by Cormac Ó Callanáin). Highlights from the concert can be heard here: 1) Knitted, Crocheted, Looped – Morag Galloway Morag Galloway – voice, viola Margaret … Continue reading Upcoming Performance: Centre Stage concert series

Michael Beil: Material Shift

I have been reading Michael Beil’s article ‘Material Shift‘, which can be found in Musical Material Today edited by Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, Frank Cox, and Wolfram Schurig. The following is by no means an exhaustive review of Beil’s text, but a collection of points which resonate with my current research.  I highly recommend reading the whole book, details of which can be found here. The article is interesting in that it presents a particular perspective on defining ‘material’ in musical composition (something which is not straightforward in general). According to Beil, it is the meaning of ‘material’ which takes precedence over the actual ‘material’ (which is defined as ‘building … Continue reading Michael Beil: Material Shift

The Composer’s Paradox: An Exploration of Restriction and Freedom in the Compositional Process

Tomorrow I will present a paper at a postgraduate symposium in Leeds. This presentation forms part of my ongoing PhD research. An abstract is included below: One can investigate the compositional process in terms of the conflict between restriction and freedom. Restriction can take many forms, some of which are imposed by logistics (for example, instrumental practicalities and performer ability), and others which are imposed by the composer (such as macro- and micro-level patterning processes and extra-musical concepts). These often then become the basis of stylistic conventions and, in a way, ‘knowledge’. Freedom exists in symbiotic relation to restriction, and … Continue reading The Composer’s Paradox: An Exploration of Restriction and Freedom in the Compositional Process

hcmf// Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2014

The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (HCMF) is a nine-day long festival of contemporary music, typically held every year in November. The following is a brief account of some of the pieces, from the festival, that have inspired some thoughts about my own compositional approach (having said this, I didn’t attend every event at the festival). I am writing about them here as a means of gathering some thoughts and promoting further composition and research. The opening night ended with a memorable performance of Salvatore Sciarrino‘s Lohengrin by Sofia Jernberg and musicians assembled by nyMusikk Bergen. The performance was amazing. It highlighted the technically-skilled timbral (especially of the voice) exploration of Sciarrino’s … Continue reading hcmf// Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2014

Upcoming performance: di_stanze festival of electronic music

The Ridge is beyond the Edge (Fixed-Media Electronics) will be performed this Sunday 2nd November in the ‘di_stanze festival of electronic music’ in Leeds along with other works by contemporary composers. More information can be found here. Below is a brief programme note about the piece: The Ridge is beyond the Edge is about a state of limbo induced by the act of ‘waiting to wait’ within a timeline that is not straightforwardly linear. This act of ‘waiting to wait’ is not to be confused with the act of simply waiting, which suggests a wait for something and a state … Continue reading Upcoming performance: di_stanze festival of electronic music

‘Social History and Music History’

I have been reading Trevor Herbert’s chapter ‘Social History and Music History’, which can be found in The Cultural Study of Music. It has been encouraging thoughts about the notion of ‘History’ and how to define it. This can be done in relation to a number of methodologies. Nevertheless, as Herbert’s chapter demonstrates, the conglomerate of these methodologies does not produce a definitive classification of what ‘History’ is. However, I think this is a good thing. It suggests that ‘History’ is potentially a dynamic social organism in itself. Herbert’s chapter explains that the development of an overall body of historical methodology … Continue reading ‘Social History and Music History’

Arnold Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2

I have been listening to Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2, and it has inspired some thoughts about art and its associations with something ‘other’. Here is a description of Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2, taken from Ethan Haimo’s Schoenberg’s Transformation of Musical Language.I am including it here because I think it provides a concise, yet comprehensive, introductory description of the work: The String Quartet No. 2, Op. 10 may well be the most heterogeneous of all of Schoenberg’s compositions. No other of his compositions has four movements of such strikingly different character. No other of his compositions begins as an instrumental … Continue reading Arnold Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2

A Violent Encounter? : Notions of Hidden ‘Violence’ in Compositional Thoughts, Acts, and Encounters with the Work of Art

Tomorrow I will present the following at a postgraduate conference in Leeds. The research is still in development. An abstract is included below: The process of encountering a work of art potentially involves a hidden ‘violent’ event. In ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’, Martin Heidegger portrays the encounter with an artwork as entailing a dynamic strife-filled ‘world’ of sociocultural and historical relations and signifiers that is paradoxically both autonomous and reliant on human interaction. Although Heidegger explains that the overall interpretation of such a work of art is not violent, but transports the receiver into an ‘openness’ opened … Continue reading A Violent Encounter? : Notions of Hidden ‘Violence’ in Compositional Thoughts, Acts, and Encounters with the Work of Art

Performance of *The Interlocutor*: ensemble Discord

The Interlocutor is my most recent composition and it was performed by Discord earlier this week. It is for French horn, electric guitar, electric bass guitar, piano (doubling keyboard), and electric five-string violin. As a (very) basic description of the composition’s structure, it is based on the dynamics of conversing. Although a seemingly simple compositional procedure, I intend the form to be more complexly dynamic, and I think that Discord brought this out. Composing for Discord was very useful, not only did it force me to consider writing for these instruments in the context of this particular ensemble, but working with the performers introduced me … Continue reading Performance of *The Interlocutor*: ensemble Discord