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
]HoldingOn[ 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.
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
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
I’m very happy to be able to share my recent recording of Charlie Sdraulig’s 2013 vocal solo, few. I’ve written about this piece on a couple of occasions, and for some background on my work with it you can read here and here.
Towards the end of April, Charlie asked me if I would be interested in performing few again at a house concert in London. I agreed and had a chance to go to work directly with Charlie on the realization. With my earlier work on the piece, I was concerned with exploding the ambiguities of the piece, especially with respect to how many ways I could simultaneously articulate elements of intimacy, privacy, inner perception, and the general implications of a sound world that derived from, but almost barely contributed to, an aural environment. At the time, I was trying to completely open up the work – to find my interpretation of the work and the way its intentions resonated with not only my own ways of thinking about sound and performance, but the personal knowledge I had accrued through friendship with Charlie about his own relationship to sound and music. I was trying to find myself through the musical exploration, coming to terms with how I hear and listen to space. Continue reading
I recently met with Beavan Flanagan to begin exploring and recording sounds for a new vocal piece being composed for me titled no sweeter sound than my own name. During our meeting we experimented with recording the interior sounds of my throat with a piezoelectric contact microphone. We began by catagorizing a few different types of sounds based on the physical mechanisms involved in production. These categories included breath sounds, glottally restricted sounds, and hummed sounds. These sounds were chosen because they are all possible to produce with my mouth closed and, with practice, no external facial movement (resulting in an ambiguous identification of my self as a subjective/objective being).
After spending some time recording those sounds, we decided to do a short improvisation that would act as a catch-all, possibly uncovering other sounds we may have missed by focusing exclusively on physical categories of production. The following video is taken from the short improvisation portion of our workshop.
more information on this project can be found @ the project’s hub
“Do the languages of the adult retain anything of the infinitely varied babble from which they emerged? If they did, then it would be only an echo, since where there are languages, the infant’s prattle has long ago vanished, at least in the form it once had in the mouth of the child who could not yet speak. It would be only an echo, of another speech and of something other than speech: an echolalia, which guarded the memory of the indistinct and immemorial babble that, in being lost, allowed all languages to be.”
Daniel Heller-Roazen. Echolalias: On the Forgetting of Language. New York: Zone Books, 2005. 11-12.
In late November of 2014 during the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, I had the pleasure of hosting friend, fellow composer/collaborator, and all around good guy Louis d’Heudieres. Louis arrived in Huddersfield well before the concert we planned to attend that evening and after a quick lunch we decided to engage in some attentive listening – a practice that I had been developing every other morning the previous three months with my flatmate, David Pocknee. In search for that elusive piece of music that is truly striking, captivating, and nearly paralyzing, I decided to play for Louis a recording of the very first piece of music I played for David when I moved in a few months prior – Shift, by the utterly mind-boggling (in the best sense possible!) composer/cellist, Franklin Cox. 
After the 14-minute tidal wave of multi-tracked cellos, the silence became pregnant with possibility…