July 12, 2019 § Leave a comment
Over the last year or two I have been focusing on research into the area of melodic contour (the ups and downs of a melody without reference to the actual pitches). This was a project funded by a Bursary from South Dublin County Council, for whose support I am grateful. It culminated in the performance of my cantata Four (see previous post) on a long poem by Billy Mills. I have been investigating structures that foreground contour itself rather than the melodies, and am deriving larger structures from contour motifs by means of fractal, generative techniques.
What I like about this technique are its implications of im-perfectionism. Current microtonal practice tends to focus on creating definite subdivisions of the octave, often employing theoretical reasoning to justify the choice of these fixed subdivisions (eg. just-intonation vs temperament). By employing the same contour patterns over a contracting pitch area, this contour technique can make explicit fine-tuning as a never-ending process without a goal. It applies the aesthetic of drone music to the modernist technique of endless, developing variation.
As a theme in Four is the life-cycle of a leaf, each part of the unfurling process implicit in embryonic form in the part preceding it, these fractal/generative contour techniques seemed nicely appropriate. Nothing in nature repeats exactly.
For those who appreciate such things, below is a video of one of the patches I developed for Four in operation. One of the features I like of this particular patch is that it’s possible to select a small portion of one of the generated ‘branches’, and start again afresh generating a fractal, but using the distinct properties of the ‘branch’.
October 15, 2016 § Leave a comment
Over the last year or so, I have been working on combining self-similar/fractal techniques (many that I found through Tom Johnson’s excellent book Self-Similar Melodies) with serialism (a technique I had never previously felt the need to explore but has suddenly interested me). Really happy with how this is going; the first finished piece was Developing Variations (can be found here in the recordings section- Paul Roe and Elizabeth Hilliard’s performances are really special), and I am currently working on focus, evasion for the Clarion Trio; a piece with lots of little movements that all have exactly the same shape, but different material.
October 15, 2016 Comments Off on
logic ballad #2: The guarded tourist makes the guide the test is included on this CD on the Divine Art/Métier label, produced by Christopher Fox. Performance by Elizabeth Hilliard. Out now! The relevant page on the Divine Art website is:
October 22, 2015 § Leave a comment
A performance of my work for plucked-string orchestra Half-Happening by the NRW JugendZupfOrchester conducted by Annika Hinsche, at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, on 11/10/15. Looking forward to writing new works in 2016 for Annika (solo mandolin), and for trioLogie, a trio from the orchestra (mandolin, mandola, guitar).
August 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
Here are a few excerpts from my recent song-cycle of poetry by Billy Mills, Logical Fallacies. The performers are Andreea Banciu (viola) and Elizabeth Hilliard (soprano).
this song is not
the world is
this song is not
is always a poem
in a room
in a park
by a river
in another city
not the one I was born in
not the one I live in now
a city at war
All texts are from Lares/Manes (Shearsman Books, 2009) © Billy Mills
We’re planning to work on another project this year…