Collaborations, TableTops and Dread

This last week I ran the first test run of a new collaboration I've been working on with Micayla Tose. Building on my work with location and hers with film music, we created an interactive work using the role-playing game (RPG) system Dread.

Dread is a horror RPG system that uses a Jenga tower to create tension. Every difficult action by a player requires a block to be pulled from the tower. If the tower falls then the player's character dies. More information on the system can be found here.

Together we've created a scenario and accompanying music that enables a musician and host to collaboratively lead a group through a sound world based narrative experience.

The performance that resulted was unique in my experience. Like most improvised works, myself and Micayla were collaborating throughout. She would be listening to my spoken cues and reacting with the music, likewise I would be listening for her musical cues and reacting with narrative direction. In this work the audience, our four players, were also collaborative partners. Our musical and narrative changes were informed by the actions of our players. 

Soon there will be a highlights film of the evening. But this performance is always best experienced as an interactive one. We're already discussing possible developments of this idea. In the meantime, if you want to experience this interactive night for 3-5 people- get in touch!

 

Writing 'for'

In my last blog I mentioned I'd started writing a series of experiential pieces for specific individuals. Each piece is sent as a postcard to it's recipient, there is only one copy and it is handwritten. I'm currently enjoying writing for individual people and with these postcards I've tried to create pieces that are unique to the tastes and interests of the recipient.

One question raised by this is how to document the pieces. These postcards are designed to be one-offs. Sharing images of them would spoil the intimacy of the work. In other situations I might have chosen not to document the work but in this case an alternative option presented itself. 

Each postcard is unique but the message written on the back is the same:

"I'm writing a series of personalised pieces. This is the [insert number here] in the series. Would be great to hear how it goes and any responses you have to it. David"

Each response I've received has been as unique as the postcards. One person sent a video of their performance, another sent a description of how it impacted their day. These responses gave an insight into the works without breaking the intimacy of them. 

So as a documentation of them I am collecting the responses here. Sometimes the recipient will choose not to share their response, or for it not to be made public. In these cases there will simply be a name of the piece and the date it was sent.

Writing for people not for instruments

Recently it was suggested that I write a series of experiential pieces (see past posts) that were less general. In response I've begun writing a number of these pieces for individuals. This has caused me to think more about how I composer for performers and I thought it might be interesting to think through that process here, maybe you'll find it equally interesting.

Music for Children is a piece I'm writing for saxophonist Sophie Gibbett. Originally inspired by Sophie's wonderful tone in her playing, the piece has quickly become less about the instrument and more about the performer. Music for Children is now a piece that explores playfulness and childlike-ness (in the positive sense) and the interactions between child and authority. This change took place as I became less interested in the instrument, and more interested in the person performing it. 

Following this I have started to collaborate with Kira Thomas on a piece that aims to bring Goth sub-culture into the western classical performance space. While in its early stages this work has begun from an interest in the performer as opposed to the instrument.

One question this has raised is of multiple performances. Can a piece written for a performer ever be performed by another person? If it is, does it remain the same piece? Perhaps someone other that Sophie can perform Music for Children but in doing so they become an avatar for the original Sophie. I don't know the answer to these questions, I may never know. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

What I do know: right now I'm finding it far more interesting to write for a person rather than an instrument.

It's Begining To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

I spoke in my last blog about a series of postcard pieces I'm writing around Bath. Well, exciting news ahead!

I've written a series of five pieces using similar concepts but set around Christmas. The pieces look at different parts of Christmas day and help highlight shared experiences between us, as well as create new ones through the pieces.

These pieces are designed to be presented as Christmas cards and you can be part of making this happen. I've started a kickstarter campaign to fund the project. The campaign is also working as a way to order the cards in time for Christmas. There's only ten days left to be a part of this project and you can check it out here

A quick sample of the card design is below, although it's in the final stages there are still changes taking place.

Please consider purchasing some cards, spreading the word, and helping support an emerging composer. 

Card Design.jpg

Long Time, No Speak

It's been a while since I updated the blog here, and I plan on restarting my pervious schedule on posting something once a month. But today I wanted to bring you all up to speed on what I'm working on, particularly two main projects.

Experiential Pieces

Over the Spring I was shortlisted for the Bath Spa University Porthleven Prize 2017. This prize has been run yearly to award a group of artists across disciplines with a residential and exhibition opportunity in Porthleven, Cornwall. As part of the shortlisted group I took part in a shorted residential visit and amongst other things wrote the piece we're all white girls here (available under the scores tab of my website). This was a verbal score intended primarily to be shown in exhibition, with the music being created in the imagination of the reader. It tried to recreate an experience on a beach in Porthleven. Since then I have been working on expanding the idea and the works have slightly changed in their approach. 

I'm now writing a set of postcard pieces set around Bath. Each piece is a verbal score printed on a postcard and takes place in a different area of the city. The score is performed on location, but is then sent as a postcard. The aim being for the score to recreate a version of the performance in the mind of the receiver. This, similar to regular postcards, will link two people in an experience over distance.

Choice Words

I've written before about Choice Words; a piece that uses erotic fanfiction as it's source text. This piece was made to explore the subject of sex and romance in a specific genre of literature. I am now looking at expanding the work to a series covering different genres. Currently, I am writing a work using Song of Song as a text. I intend this to be a series that can be performed together, each work giving greater context to the others.

So Much More...

I'm also working on a piece for Saxophone with Sophie Gibbett, tentatively titled Music for Children. And there are many other ideas and projects in the ether, and more blog posts - watch this space.

If you have anything you'd like me to blog about, or any questions in general - get in touch!