Chamber Music No.1 (duo)

Very much enjoying being in the middle of a substantial messy sequence of interlocking pieces currently sitting under the banner Paraphernalia. I recently premiered one of these pieces with the wonderful Berlin based performance duo Aside and I thought I’d share the score here. It’s a video score and the piece involves copying the actions of the hands in the score, in this case Donald Trump shaking hands, with objects attached to the arms to make sounds.

Pretty pleased with the editing and find watching it compelling albeit pretty distasteful. The harrowing power-play evident in his handshakes – tapping the other person’s hand, sharp pulling, distasteful brevity – are, to me, strangely musical. It’s also great when Macron beats him at his own game.

Part of this sequence is looking at chamber music relationships alongside stylised real-world situation (so I’m making a trio that corresponds precisely with the final showdown in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and another which is based around the bits of TV shows where someone catches their boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/husband/wife in bed with with someone else. Suggestions for quartets, quintets, and sextets welcome…

Air Pressure 2

Very happy to share the full version of Air Pressure 2 – a video piece made for/with Kathryn Williams.

My first Air Pressure piece was made as part of Kathryn’s Coming up for air project – a commissioning project which requests pieces  limited to a single breath. I responded to Bruce Nauman’s Body Pressure, an action/event score which acts as an invitation to explore you body through surface pressure.

Screenshot 2019-06-04 at 00.15.31.png
an extract from Bruce Nauman’s Body Pressure

In Air Pressure the end of the flute is sealed and all the holes are closed. The instruction is to put as much air into the flute as possible and to allow it to escape slowly.

In Air Pressure 2 the resistance is gradually released through each simultaneous set of four breaths (i.e. the first is a sealed flute, the second is open at the end and the mouth covers the air hole, and the sixth is the most open embouchure possible). The final two sets are a low cluster and a high harmonic cluster – here the resistance is in the aspiration of the pitch rather than the inherent resistance of the instrument.

Each of the 32 films are different and I find the surprising similarities in Kathryn’s body movements that don’t necessarily seem connected to the sound (for example the placement of the flute after she’s finished playing) utterly compelling. I find myself more preoccupied with this close set of instrumental-theatre variations than the original intended content of the piece. The exception is the first of the eight sets; this was filmed at the end of the session and by this time Kathryn’s asthma was causing considerable wheezing. This creates a strange high-pitched set of contrary motion movements – a sound I hadn’t expected would be quite so effective.

The first six parts were premiered as part of Kathryn’s Kammer Klang set.

 

Text Score #3

FIVE ECLAIR PIECES FOR MERIEL PRICE (2018)

1) Proposition (after Alison Knowles)
Make some eclairs.

2) Distance learning
Bite off both ends of the eclair. Blow as hard as you can through the eclair and think of some music you love.

3) for Meriel Price (after Le Monte Young)
Bring some eclairs and milk onto the stage for Meriel to eat and drink. The performer may then feed Meriel or leave her to eat by herself. The piece is over when Meriel asks for more eclairs.

4) Personal Hygiene (after Ken Friedman)
Brush your teeth using a different eclair for each tooth.

5) afterward
Count all the eclairs in the sky.
Count all the eclairs in your heart.

Decontamination #15 – the unassessables

ANDY INGAMELLS.jpg
Andy Ingamells

Very excited to be welcoming the wonderful composer and performer Andy Ingamells to the RNCM tomorrow. He’ll be performing four short pieces (one made in collaboration with Ana Ribeiro) alongside music by Charlotte Marlow, Sarah Hennies, Laurence Crane, and Erwin Schulhoff as well as three short poems by Matthew Welton  performed by RNCM students and staff.

There is a rich history of maverick musical performance problematising the nature of music.  I’ve never felt much of a compulsion to worry about this. However I’m saddened at the stories from Andy and others where his work has been dismissed because it’s too far removed from a listeners’ usual musical experience. This collection of music and text pieces are all examples of adventurous practices that might, in some circumstances, cause problems in assessment.

Not at Decontamination however. The programme will be:

Decontamination #15 – the unassessables
Royal Northern College of Music Carole Nash Recital Room, 1930, tickets here.

Green Gauge – Matthew Welton
The Sound of a Marathon – Andy Ingamells & Ana Ribeiro
Three pieces for guitar – Laurence Crane
Blues Scale – Matthew Welton
In Futurum – Erwin Schulhoff
Psalm 2 – Sarah Hennies
Black List – Matthew Welton
Strip Polka – Charlotte Marlow
Waschen – Andy Ingamells
worse than nothing – Andy Ingamells

Performed by:
Aaron Breeze
Fiona Finsbury
Martin Harlow
Thomas Hillary
Andy Ingamells
Mark Reid

Being Human – Embodied Sounds

Screenshot 2018-11-11 at 12.12.22   HouseOfBedlamLogo   Screenshot 2018-11-11 at 12.14.17

On the 24th of November there is a fantastic afternoon of new music. This event is part of the national Being Human festival of the humanities, which will be taking place in around 50 towns and cities across the UK between 15-24 November.

Being Human is the only national festival dedicated entirely to celebrating research across the humanities – from archaeology, history, languages, philosophy and more. This year the festival explore the theme of ‘Origins and Endings’. Being Human aims to make the humanities accessible and fun for all, and is run by the School of Advanced Study, University of London in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

Our take on this these is to explore a range of compositions, performance and research projects that focus on the fundamentals of the body in producing sounds and musical interactions. This includes music by researchers Larry Goves, Mark Dyer and Bofan Ma (RNCM); Claudia Molitor (City University London); James Saunders (Bath Spa); Annie Hui Hsin Hsieh (Carnegie Mellon University) and; Kathryn Williams (University of Huddersfield). This event also launches a new book from Peeters Publishers edited by Rebecca Thumpston and Nicholas Reyland (RNCM), Music, analysis and the body: Experiments, explorations and embodiments. This will include a new half hour film with three of the contributors talking about their chapters.

Extract from my new film AIR PRESSURE 2 performed by Kathryn Williams

As well as three concerts showcasing a variety of compositional and performance research we also have an interactive exhibition dedicated to music and body. This will include a new installation from Bofan Ma; new music to perform by James Saunders exploring group behaviour; a personal trainer who has worked with Kathryn Williams on PIXERCISE; an exhibition of films from Coming up for air (Kathryn Williams’ commissioning research project of pieces restricted to a single breath) as well as pieces for you to try; and a chance to try out happy/boomf/fat (sing the score while eating marshmallows) or devise you own visual or audio version of Claudia Molitor’s happy/boomf/fat.

Concert One – Embodied Sounds
1200 – Carole Nash Recital Room – Royal Northern College of Music
Coming up for air – various composers
I decide what it is I’m going to do – James Saunders
To go along, however, is to thread one’s way – Mark Dyer
Voice Box – Claudia Molitor
Music for virtual airports – Larry Goves
Performed by The House of Bedlam

Films Showing One – Music, analysis and the body: Experiments, explorations and embodiments 
1300 – Carole Nash Recital Room – Royal Northern College of Music

Concert Two – Embodied Sounds
1400 – Carole Nash Recital Room – Royal Northern College of Music
PIXERCISE – Kathryn Williams & Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh
I tell you what to do – James Saunders
happy/boomf/fat – Larry Goves
Performed by The House of Bedlam

Films Showing Two – Music, analysis and the body: Experiments, explorations and embodiments 
1500 – Carole Nash Recital Room – Royal Northern College of Music

Concert Three – Embodied Sounds
1600 – Carole Nash Recital Room – Royal Northern College of Music
Coming up for air – various composers
choose who tells you what to do – James Saunders
To go along, however, is to thread one’s way – Mark Dyer
Voice Box – Claudia Molitor
for Jess and Anna (2) – Larry Goves
Performed by The House of Bedlam

New piece

Looking forward to our House of Bedlam concert this Saturday at LSO St Luke’s. I thought I’d share the score to a new piece hot off the press for this concert.

I’m trying to work out what’s led me to a (partially) open scored piece where half the performers are playing objects. Sort of just the right tools for the job I think. However I don’t think I can deny the influence of the new creative practice course (CAPPA) I ran at Snape Maltings over the summer – especially when the participants were so open, James Saunders and Tim Parkinson gave such a great performance, and Hanna Harman and Amber Priestley spoke so beguilingly about their work. I think I just kinda want in.

I’ve also been mainlining Sarah Hennies’ pieces though Spotify, Soundcloud and vinyl for over a few months now. Guest lecturing at the Manchester School of Fine Art last week I was bowled over to the students’ performance of her Everything Else (not least becuase of the objects they chose) and her new Blume record Embedded Environment just haemorrhages class from start to finish. Decontamination is featuring her extraordinary long film/documentary/video art/live performance piece Contralto next March. More on that soon but you heard it here first (unless you’re one of the billion people I’ve already told becuase I’m pretty excited about this).

So this new piece is for melody instruments that can play in unison – at least two and an even number – and two objects performers (again at least two etc.). It’s a kind of arrangement of hollow yellow willow, an orchestral piece from last year, but pared down to bare bones and with plenty of choices for the players to make. The electronics can be chosen by the players (although I’m happy to make suggestions) and the objects are ideally metal balls swirled in metal bowls and corks swirled in wooden or plastic bowls (but I’m open to suggestions). It’s 4-5 minutes long and weirdly slightly but dense. I’m looking forward to hearing the first rehearsal this week.

The two from Rastibon could start a hailstorm

I have a new piece on the 2nd of May. I can’t wait. It’s for two alto saxophones and electronic sounds. It was commissioned by Anthony Brown and he’ll be performing it with Carl Raven as part of The House of Bedlam’s  Decontamination concert.

At the forefront of my mind when writing this was the way the players coordinate, interact and communicate. The opening requires constant communication between the duo then, as the piece progresses, the players gradually appear less and less coordinated. However this is sometimes at odds with the sound of the music. There are three kinds of notation to emphasise/play-with this: conventional, time-space and ‘speech’. The speech notation informs the rhythm and the quality of sound and moves through chant (i.e. unison), conversation, argument and soliloquy. The text is from Lars Von Trier’s extraordinary film Antichrist responding to the breakdown of the relationship of the two protagonists and the mix of different natural and stylised filming techniques (not, in this case, the sensationalised sexual and violent imagery). The title, also from the film, originates in Malleus Maleficarum, the fifteenth-century treatise on witches, in which there is a description of the hailstorms alleged to have been caused by two women in Ratisbon, Germany.

antichrist06-lst064548
From Antichrist, Lars Von Trier, 2009

In my mind my last three pieces (hollow yellow willowhappy/boomf/fat and this one) are three very different approaches to comparable ideas leading to radically different sounds. In each case they are concerned with antiphonal movement, duo relationships and sharing materials. This piece is, in some respects, the most elaborate (and I suspect the most difficult to play).

I’m so grateful to Anthony and Carl for learning it; it’s a commitment.