Year: 2017 – present
Status: PhD Academic Research / In Progress – The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Description: This body of research is concerned with discovering and exploiting creative reciprocities between music as constructed sound, and architecture as constructed space. I aim to establish a mode for transdisciplinary practice between the interconnected fields of architecture, acoustical engineering, music composition and performance.
Context: Historically, architectural space has played a highly active role in influencing the experience and composition of music. The Dutch renaissance composer Adrian Willaert is famed for having supposedly invented polychoral, antiphonal music as a response to the spatially-opposed positioning of choir lofts in St Mark’s Basilica in Venice. Conversely, architects and engineers have long acknowledged the desires of music in space. Long before Acoustics was a formally recognised discipline, Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius discusses a method for enhancing the sonic character of theatres and performance spaces by embedding “echea” or acoustic vases in the walls. Despite these examples, only a small handful of spatiosonic practitioners have managed to rigorously explore interactive parallels between musical space and physical space in their work. American composer Henry Brant produced many spatial compositions, with a view to exploring the idea that aspects of physical space (particularly distance and direction) are as compositionally active as the musical elements of tone and timbre. In contrast to the above examples, our experience of music is becoming more “virtual”, or divorced from a physical, spatial reality. Our lives are increasingly saturated with the availability of digital media and we are largely inseparable from the portable technologies which enable us to create and consume media on demand whenever, wherever. As a result, it is now expected that the music that we so regularly consume originally sounded anywhere except the space where we are listening to it. The space in which the sound was originally recorded is often overlooked, forgotten and even considered unimportant. In parallel to this trend in our listening habits, the recent portability of 3D scanning and LiDAR technology has improved our ability to capture the geometry of existing spaces in their entirety, in 3D. Once this geometry has been captured, we can easily simulate how sound might behave in these spaces, without ever needing to physically set foot in them. This continuing trend towards “virtual listening” results in a disconnect between the practices of designing spaces for music and composing music for live performance.
Methodology: This research is explored through the composition and choreography of physical, musical performances. These performances are hypothesised, constructed and examined using a range of analytical analogue and digital techniques from predictive models of acoustic simulation, to interrogating the results of the performances through the analysis of ambisonic recordings, spatio-temporal drawings and audience feedback. The performed compositions are referred to as “constructions” and each one establishes the terms by which sonic media and architectural space might influence each other. With these constructions, architecture is activated by musical desires. Simultaneously, music is composed and performed as a way of accessing and exploiting spatiosonic phenomena. For example, in “Construction 001: Opposing” the precise and non-standard spatial positioning of orchestral instruments reinforces ideas of implied rhythms which otherwise emerge from the sonic oscillation of close tonal structures in melodic themes. “Construction 002: Tracing” uses the characteristic reverberation of the Sagrada Familia to dissolve the ontological boundaries of melody and harmony. The current piece “Construction 003: Axial/Regional” more precisely builds on Henry Brant’s ideas surrounding distance and direction in physical space, in tone and in timbre. This piece also acknowledges the effect that the acoustic response of the performance space may have on the way in which the piece is heard and received.
Future Outcomes: Current and future projects aim to build on the complexity, precision and depth of previous projects. The next stage of the research is to establish a rigorous approach for understanding the outcomes of each performance, with a view to making a series of physical installations which have the capacity to interact with the space and the music in ways which change the acoustic response of the space and therefore the behaviour of the music. The final outcome of this research will result in a written thesis with documentation of performance projects supported by drawings, photographs, audio recordings, footage, diagrams, made installations and scores. In particular, the scores and installations are concerned with achieving a universal, notational legibility across musical and architectural disciplines.
Preparing new stuff for the DMU Interfaces conference in September – check out all the abstracts HERE.
Coming soon..! My image “Multi-Dimensional Orchestral Model” has been selected for the UCL “Research as Art / Art as Research” exhibition! Sneak preview here, but see the full thing at the South Cloisters, Wilkins Building, Gower St, UCL from Monday 23 April 2018!! (vote for me too if you like it!) LINK
Pedro Novo from Max Fordham engineers very kindly showed us around the SoundSpace that he has built!
Check out MF’s BLOG for more.
Ohmygod – we (Sound Making Space) have a Pecha kucha event coming up! Get tickets HERE
Check out my interview with the British Music Collection about being a (female) composer in 2018. LLLLLINK
Broken sketch of new composition.
On Feb 15th I will be running an event at the Bartlett (22 Gordon Street) – featuring composer/conductor Kemal Yusuf and drummer Asaf Sirkis. We will be discussing space and time in the practices of Architecture, Composition, Performance and Conducting!!! Free tickets still available HERE.
The second performance of Device 002 has taken place at Gaudi’s unfinished Sagrada Familia. With thanks to Mark Burry, Dr. Jane Burry, Prof. Jim Barbour, the Australian Research Council and Swinburne University and performers Audrey Wozniak and Theodore Balkwill. More information will emerge in my project page HERE in due course…
Have a read of our pamphlet for the Time Making Space event at the Royal Academy of Arts
I’ll be chairing the discussion at the RA’s “Time Making Space” event – supported by the Bartlett and Sound Making space Doctoral Network. Also my new piece “Device 002 -Tracing” will be performed by violinist Audrey Wozniak and Cellist Theo Balkwill (edit: Malachi Cheverest). More info on special guests Carol Mavor, Stephen Chance and Robin Rimbaud (Scanner) HERE
To have a listen to the latest piece which will be performed at the Royal Academy of Arts AND the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona – have a listen to the MIDI export above (note, this will sound VERY different when played in the actual spaces!!)
Have a listen to the performance by the London Graduate Orchestra of my piece Device 001 – performed at Shoreditch Church as part of the Sound and Music New Voices residency.
My latest article: “The architectural instrumentalist – exploring spatio-temporal interdependence in the composition of performed music and architectural space” has been published in the Design Ecologies peer-reviewed Journal – read it HERE
Been busy this weekend, recording a new EP (DAIS) and preparing for the next LGO workshop!!
Build a desk…
Saw these beasts today:
Built around 1930 as part of an experiment to develop acoustic defenses in the UK, but sadly superseded by radar shortly before the 2nd world war. The sound mirrors made it possible to hear enemy aircraft and pinpoint not only their direction of travel, but also the makes and models of the aircraft. Now they just sit as eerie monuments to an obsolete technology… (Hidden behind a caravan park and thousands of blackberry brambles).
Gets cut tomorrow…
Having a look around:
For future reference…
Testing the tonal limits of all sections of the orchestra:
Bending notes for the 2nd LGO workshop mext month..!!!
Listen to part of the performance with “exploded” ensemble at Shoreditch Church – performed 24th June 2017
Edge to Edge was a success! Thanks everyone who helped, performed, listened and watched! Keep your eyes and ears peeled for videos and audio recordings soon..!
“I’m very interested in the material and acoustic properties of both architectural spaces and musical instruments, and I’m specifically excited by the idea that architectural space can be appropriated to behave as an extension of sound-producing instruments.”
I was recently interviewed by the British Music Collection – see the following link for full article! READ HERE
Please come to the debut performance of “Dorsal Falls” on the evening of June 24th!!! TICKETS HERE: https://goo.gl/q5SKKB
Hey’all – my latest piece: “DORSAL FALLS – A SKETCH FOR A SPATIALISED SCORE” will be exhibited at the Royal Academy Of Arts in London from 13th June – 21st August. Go, check it out. Tickets HERE.
(+more new stuff on the way, shortly… stay tuned)