‘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

Milk and Honey on the Other Side – Sticky Singing

This is a short exploration into ‘slow singing’ using the song Michael Row the Boat Ashore. A recording of me singing this song at a relatively normal speed has been temporally stretched/smeared using a digital audio editing program and then listened to while making this recording. For some time now a part of my compositional and performance practice has involved imitating (or re-mediating) various forms of digital distortions and art.e.facts, of which slowing down and stretching audio and visual material has been a significant interest. Here, my approach towards using and imitating the stretched recording departs slightly from my previous practices in that the digitally stretched audio acts not as a strict reference that I attempt to reproduce as accurately as possible, but instead acts as a template from which I can situate myself in the sonic/temporal world created by the digital artefact. The result is that I am both aware of and beholden to the recording to some degree, but am also able to exercise a greater amount of performative agency, quasi-improvisationally responding and reacting to the sounds as I listen.

Prattle & Babble – Arriving at ‘urtext’

“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. [1]

After the 14-minute tidal wave of multi-tracked cellos, the silence became pregnant with possibility…

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