Composition Seminar


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Swing it, shake it, move it, make it

A reflection on devising processes in recent music-theatre pieces

My recent music-theatre works have derived all their material from the physicality and gestures of musical performance. They consider both performer and instrument to be physical, performative objects, in equally visual and aural environments.

This talk will detail how influences from contemporary dance and performance art have developed a devising process for creating pieces collaboratively with musicians. A key factor in this practice-led research has been into the establishing of a rehearsal space, in which musicians with little or no experience of movement, or physical/musical improvisation, can create and develop physical and musical material comfortably and thoughtfully. In this way, music-theatre works are not composed “onto” a performer, but with. The composer becomes facilitator, reflector, director.

As a composer, the question was: how far can this material go? Inevitably, the pieces would become partly self-referential about musical performance itself. (As an absurdist, the answer is: no comment.)

The following works will be discussed:

  • shambles (solo music-theatre series) (2013-ongoing: shamble 1 for celloshamble 2 for flute with Rowena Jacobs)
  • assembly line (2014, with The Assembled)
  • my mi mime (with The Assembled, premiered at the 2015 Spring Festival)

before a brief look ahead to final planned PhD pieces, including a large-scale work for choreographed orchestra.


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