Limbs Have Hearts and Eyes Hear – on ‘]HoldingOn[‘

This blog post is about one of the three scores from my trio ||: trouble letting go :|| – ]HoldingOn[ – 4 Echoes: whistle, whisper, gasp, silence composed for violin and objects. The trio is a collection of three pieces that are intended to be simultaneously performed together and was written for the London-based concert series 840 for their ‘New Music for Violin and Objects’ programme. In this blog I reflect on some developments in my work with video scores in the piece ]HoldingOn[. 

video score for ]HoldingOn[ / instructions for reading the score

is my second self-published video score and extends upon some of the previous work I was doing in this is not natural, a trio for French hornist, pianist, and contrabassist.[1]

To briefly recap the work I did in this is not natural: the score for this is not natural is made/composed from edited video-documentation of pre-recorded performances of a choreographed sequence of movements lasting fifteen seconds. Inspired by Bill Viola’s Quintet of the Astonished, large portions of the original performance documentation were extremely slowed down to fill the duration of nine minutes. Frames from the original footage are spread out across larger distances, breaking the illusion of apparent motion, and through a process of interpolation, new frames are generated to fill the space in-between original frames and render the movement/footage smooth. Continue reading

‘No sweeter sound than my own name’ – Reflections and Commentary on Reading Audio-Score Drafts

I have been working with Beavan Flanagan to develop a new vocal piece for me titled, no sweeter sound than my own name. Beavan and I are exploring the use of an audio score and along the way I have been writing a few reflections on the experience of ‘reading’ the score. A couple of weeks ago Beavan Flanagan and I met up again to try out an updated audio-score. What follows are my reflections on practicing the original audio-score and reading the updated audio-score. My reflections are accompanied by commentary from Beavan and a video excerpt of the run-throughs we did during our workshops. Continue reading

‘No sweeter sound than my own name’ – Audio-Scores and Breathing

Beavan Flanagan and I recently caught up again to continue exploring and developing his new vocal piece, no sound sweeter than my own name. After our first meeting Beavan constructed a basic, algorithmically generated breathing score. The breathing score is an audio score that provides instructions to the performer for when to breath in and out.

From the mouth of Beavan:

I’ve recently been dealing with issues surrounding notation or perhaps more generally speaking, communication of information. Not wanting Michael to be visually – I’m going to say distracted, but I’m not sure if that’s the right word –  I’m trying to find ways to communicate information or instruction in a purely auditory fashion. This has led me to develop an exercise in controlling Michael’s breathing patterns. Continue reading

On Renotation: ‘Disintegration’

A little over a year ago I began working on disintegration, for saxophone trio, and started exploring a few new notational avenues (or at least new for me). In the end the notation ended up rather opaque and non-representative of the sonic landscape I had in mind for the work. With other projects on my plate, I decided to chalk it up to a learning experience and move on. However, a year later, I decided to revisit the piece. Upon revisiting the work, and having worked with this particular notational interest in other works since, it set in just how opaque the notation was and spurred my desire to re-notate the work. Here I will provide a brief “case study” of disintegration, highlighting the different stages of the re-notation process as a way of showing the notation’s evolution from its original state to its current notational manifestation.

Annotated sample of the original score (click to enlarge):

The bottom stave represents the pitch content and, to a lesser extent, the general fingering sequence for the performer. This stave is the most “traditional” of the three staves and acts as a point of stability that gets obscured (or disintegrates) due to the other two staves’ operations. The next stave up is the air-quality stave. Moving from bottom to top, the air to pitch ratio increases from marginal air mixture to the point of almost pure air and no pitch, with a rest indicating pure pitch with no air mixture. Finally, the last stave indicates the performer’s mouth-placement on the reed and the amount of pressure to apply to the reed (the dynamics in the quotation marks). Again, the rest indicates no physical action and a return to the normal mouth-placement/pressure for the given pitch. Moving from bottom to top, the mouth moves from the tip of the reed to a fully swallowed position. Continue reading