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 type of interactivity, Interstice’s timeline is complex, and its participatory element results in the roles of ‘performer’ and ‘audience’ being indistinguishable. Interstice treats the audience as additional compositional ‘objects’ amongst which perceived ‘meaning’ and ‘function’ interact within a ‘frame’ that is multidimensional and not definitive. As such, my composition allows the chain of stages in a typical compositional process to be radically rearranged.

Whilst demonstrating how Interstice works, I discuss that, for me, the nature of compositional ‘form’ is multidimensional and interstitial. It comprises a continuously shifting definition where each characterisation appears inherent regardless of this constantly transforming quality. A potential reason for this versatile behaviour is most likely due to the multidimensional nature of ‘time’ which I explain includes simultaneous linear and nonlinear characteristics.

Another reason is possibly because of the various perspectives applied by society. I elaborate on this theory by questioning the substance of compositional ‘form’ and demonstrating how answers to this query are governed by the perceivers’ viewpoints and the composition’s social context. I explain that compositional ‘form’ is a communal event that most likely relies on the formation of ‘meaning’ within the ‘space’ between a composition’s constituent ‘objects’ and its perceivers. In my opinion, this establishment of ‘meaning’ is governed by the way the compositional ‘form’, and its occupied ‘space’, is ‘framed’ within its social setting; however, in the case of Interstice, defining this ‘space’ and ‘frame’ is not straightforward.

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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 composing and performing, but can be viewed as expression (void of technical micro-level detail such as specific pitches and rhythms). As such, I am proposing a compositional method that sees expression as the building blocks for a musical work where micro-level musical details are a by-product.

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 both constitute such ‘knowledge’. This presentation seeks to explore various examples of this paradox using music by the speaker and recent works by other composers.

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 up by the artwork, there is a ‘violence of thought’ in the underlying mechanics of this process, and it seems that the ‘world’ encountered relies on a prior understanding of the artwork’s significations. Albeit only part of Heidegger’s overall thought about encountering a work of art, the ‘violence of thought’ is a conceptual framework for comprehending ‘art’ and ‘artworks’ that is constructed from a long line of traditional understanding about what the work of art is.

With a compilation of existing literature and music, and examples of my own compositions, I compare such ‘violence of thought’ with an artwork’s inherent willingness to signify something other than what it potentially actually is when free from such association. I explain how such a pre-established conceptual framework for comprehending music is governed by a dynamic relationship with tradition and culture, considering how this can influence the way in which one interprets a composition, and as such, controls the composer’s act.

Considering Compositional ‘Spaces’ as ‘Heterotopias’: ‘Music and/as Process’ Symposium

I presented the following at the ‘Music and/as Process’ Symposium in Huddersfield last summer.  Although my research has developed since then, this presentation is still relevant to my current perspective on music’s relationship with society. More than anything else, though, I am fascinated with Michel Foucault’s article ‘Of Other Spaces’. His concept of ‘Heterotopia’ opens up  a perspective on society that resonates with my own ideas about composition. Art is invariably a social event and we must acknowledge this in our quest to explore its mechanics.

An awareness of Foucault’s ‘Heterotopology’ can potentially guide the compositional process and expand the existing perspective of semiotics that music and society are inextricably linked. In semiotics, music acquires meaning via the relationships between musical features and its connection with society; this perspective can be applied to the treatment of compositional ‘space.’ Abstract and concrete compositional ‘spaces’ can be explored via Foucault’s ‘Heterotopology’ which defines different societal ‘spaces’ (‘heterotopias’) in relation to one another.

In this presentation, I apply Foucault’s ‘Heterotopology’ to my interpretation of compositional ‘space’ which I regard as a topological network of concrete and abstract ‘spaces’ that are defined via the relationships between them. I demonstrate how this perspective guides my compositional process with an example of my own work: before the score and sonic realisation of a composition, there is a piece that is time-independent and multi-dimensional within the abstract ‘space’ of pre-compositional thought. Although not absolutely realised within the finished composition, this abstract ‘space’ is topologically connected to all constituent ‘spaces’ of its concrete existence, and an application of Foucault’s ‘Heterotopology’ can demonstrate a potential connection to societal ‘space.’

Compositional Form: A Multidimensional Interstice?

The following is an area of my research which I presented on at a postgraduate conference in December, and something I hope to talk more about in the future as it develops.

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 type of interactivity, Interstice’s timeline is complex, and its participatory element results in the roles of ‘performer’ and ‘audience’ being indistinguishable. Interstice treats the audience as additional compositional ‘objects’ amongst which perceived ‘meaning’ and ‘function’ interact within a ‘frame’ that is multidimensional and not definitive. As such, my composition allows the chain of stages in a typical compositional process to be radically rearranged.

Whilst demonstrating how Interstice works, I discuss that, for me, the nature of compositional ‘form’ is multidimensional and interstitial. It comprises a continuously shifting definition where each characterisation appears inherent regardless of this constantly transforming quality. A potential reason for this versatile behaviour is most likely due to the multidimensional nature of ‘time’ which I explain includes simultaneous linear and nonlinear characteristics.

Another reason is possibly because of the various perspectives applied by society. I elaborate on this theory by questioning the substance of compositional ‘form’ and demonstrating how answers to this query are governed by the perceivers’ viewpoints and the composition’s social context. I explain that compositional ‘form’ is a communal event that most likely relies on the formation of ‘meaning’ within the ‘space’ between a composition’s constituent ‘objects’ and its perceivers. In my opinion, this establishment of ‘meaning’ is governed by the way the compositional ‘form’, and its occupied ‘space’, is ‘framed’ within its social setting; however, in the case of Interstice, defining this ‘space’ and ‘frame’ is not straightforward.