Release of New EP ‘Cues’ on Weekend EP Project and Upcoming Performances in Manchester and Hull

Cues

I recently contributed a new piece of work titled Cues for Jessie Marino’s Weekend EP Project. Here is how Marino describes the label:

“The Weekend EP Project gives artists 72 hours to complete an EP. It’s an excuse to solidify work that you’ve been tinkering with, or a way to try to extend your artistic tendrils or a way to be another person for a weekend or just a deadline (which we all desperately need)!”


In 2016 I made a pair of pieces called Affective … hopes of being moved to feel … Ripples. In Affective, an ensemble of performers wear earbuds that play an audio recording/guide that they listen to while mingling before the concert and during intermissions, and performing a program of music. The audio they hear is a collection of sounds that correspond to four basic emotions (happiness, sadness, fear, and disgust) and affect the performer-listeners, potentially modulating the emotional tenor of the music-event space. 

After the premiere performance of Affective, one of the performers made the observation that they were more able to give way to their emotions and split their attention between the audio recording and the staged performances when they were an audience member rather than a performer. Since then, I’ve variously contemplated the idea of making something that audience members could listen to during a music event that would subtly unsettle any audience/performer divide, sanctities of “musical work”, and enhance the sense of hearing and act of listening. Cues is my first attempt at such an aim.

 

 


Over 25-28 December I conceived and produced Cues, a concert-length EP designed to be listened to by an audience member alongside and during a programme of other pieces of music at a music event. For 90 minutes, the audience member wears an earbud and hears a collection of different sounds and instructions amidst large intervals of silence. In the same way that my piece BUZZED for solo horn, or Beavan Flanagan’s No sweeter sound than my own name for solo voice, uses sound instead of noteheads (or visual imagery in general) as a signifier of performance actions, the audio in Cues is sometimes-score. The audience member moves between two modes of engagement with the audio in Cues. When they hear the word “listen” they simply hear the sounds alongside whatever else is taking place during the music event. When they hear the word “imitate” the sounds that follow take on choreographic significance; tapping sounds correspond to tapping gestures on the back of the wrist, high pitches frequencies lead one to close their eyes, and waves of noise prompt the listener to cover their ears.

These aspects of Cues and how the piece is designed are inspired by a range of influences:

  • a wristband called a Re-Vibe that vibrates every 5, 7, or 10 minutes as a way of refocusing attention;
  • an almost entirely misunderstood conversation I had with Lucy Railton about the idea of audiences and performers existing “in communion”;
  • Louis d’Heudieres’ Laughter Studies series: the two modes in Cues, “listen” and “imitate”, are derived from Louis’ “describe” and “imitate” modes in Laughter Studies 2;
  • and Marc Codina’s Audience Relief series, which playfully engages the audience member as a listener-performer.

Interested in trying Cues?
Listen to track 1 off the album and follow along with the transcript for complete information on how to play, listen to, and perform Cueshttps://weekendepproject.bandcamp.com/album/cues

Please leave feedback as a comment/review on the Bandcamp page.

Upcoming Performances

I. — 3 March 2018

I have been workshopping a new composition titled Intermission Music. The piece is a trio being made for and with Callum Coomber, Kathy Hart, and Rosalind Ridout, members of SHOAL and students at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Intermission Music takes place submerged beneath concert experience. Embedded audience members overlay near-silent waves of sound onto dictaphone recordings of the programme, emerging in the interval as moments of localized, embodied playback that temporarily unsettle the social surface. The ripples dissipate, a moment is already being forgotten, though undercurrents are produced; an undertow of musical memory gently tugs and submerges conversations, interactions, and, ultimately, the concert experience into more physically and musically performative depths.

We present the premiere performance of Intermission Music alongside performances by Kupla and Ryan Patrick Maguire, and a piece by Michael Pisaro on 3 March as part of Michael Brailey’s fifth VIRTUALLYREALITY “Submergence / Emergence” at Partisan in Manchester.

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/virtuallyreality-presents-submergence-emergence-tickets-42459396197

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II. — 9 March 2018

Cues will be performed at the University of Hull on 9 March as part of CLAC #2, a new music and performance art series organized by Brice Catherin. Cues will be presented alongside a free improvisation set led by Colin Frank and performances by Mark Slater and Simon Desbruslais of pieces by Mark Slater, Morton Feldman, Jonathan Harvey, John Lely, Sebastian Forbes, and Colin Frank.

Event details: https://culturenet.co.uk/events/clac-2-new-music-performance-art-series

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BUZZED @ Nexus Arts Café

Last July I moved to Manchester and am excited to now be presenting my first concert in the city in collaboration with the Berlin-based French hornist Samuel Stoll:

BUZZED
Saturday, 20 February 2016 @ Nexus Arts Cáfe
2 Dale Street, Manchester, M1 1JW [click for map]
Doors – 8:00pm / Concert – 8:30pm
FREE (£5 donation)

Samuel and I have been collaborating for the last year, sending back and forth recorded improvisations and other materials. This concert is a combination of our own repertoires and the piece that emerged out of our collaboration with each other. BUZZED will feature recently composed experimental music and performances for solo voice and french horn in which I’m turned into a still-life, Samuel displays feats of embouchuric dexterity and stamina, we both explore a sonic and aural study of laughter, and soon-to-be legacy media are barely brought to life with the nylon hairs of violin bows.

Program:

Event listing on Facebook

Live Performance of ‘No sweeter sound than my own name’

Live performance as part of the WEISSLICH concert series at Hundred Years Gallery
Filming credit: Tom Hartford

It has been a long time since I’ve written an update on the collaborative project Beavan Flanagan and I set out on about five months ago. Since the last update No sweeter sound than my own name has undergone several changes. The score has been finished, we’ve repurposed a storage stool into a speaker cabinet, experimented with a makeshift bone-conduction swimming cap, and performed the piece across England. Performances have taken place in Coventry, Birmingham, London, and last night in Huddersfield at the inaugural HCMOFF – an unaffiliated fringe event to the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (HCMF//). 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

externalized traces – In Conversation with Charlie Sdraulig about ‘few’

After visiting Charlie in May, and documenting a realization of few, I asked Charlie if he would be interested in having a free-form conversation with me about the piece and our collaboration. In our conversation we discussed the context from which few emerged, strategies for devising realizations, performative idiosyncrasies, overhearing, the duration of the score and its relation to focus, re-sounding as a possible way of interpreting the work activated by the piece, and an idea of documentation as inviting mishearings.


IN CONVERSATION WITH CHARLIE SDRAULIG ABOUT FEW

Michael Baldwin: Let’s start by talking about the context in which few was written.

Charlie Sdraulig: few is the third piece in a series collectively known as breath. The other two pieces in the series were primarily concerned with developing a vocabulary of sounds for winds predicated on a tenuous physical relationship between a performer and their instrument. The idea for this third breath piece had been percolating for a while and I wasn’t entirely sure what form it would take. Actually, the piece started off quite grandiosely as this kind of epic for slide whistle! Continue reading

Live Performance of Luke Nickel’s ‘[factory]’ at WEISSLICH 3

Earlier in July I gave my second performance of Luke Nickel’s [factory] as part of WEISSLICH 3 at Hundred Years Gallery.

Extending from a tradition of verbal scores using text and language to communicate ideas for making music, Nickel’s [factory] is unique in the way its musical and artistic ideas are communicated. As a part of a larger project, Luke has orally expressed a range of ideas to a group of humans who have agreed to act as mentally encapsulated vessels of specific ideas, committing to memory a one-off communicated ur-speech. Upon creating and storing these memories, each human is considered to be a live, embodied manifestation of the original ideas, rendering them into, what Luke would call, living scores (what I consider to be living repositories which store, maintain, and disseminate living scores).
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