MPSG 2017 Associate Session: RMA Music and/as Process Study Group


Ephemeral Scores and the Work-Concept

This session explores the relationships of 5 contemporary composers with the ‘work concept’ through the medium of performative presentations of ephemeral scores. The 5 works presented in the session explore facets of notation from video to audio to objects which eventually degrade. Whilst the score of Charles Hutchins’ work Immrama is in fact a programme which generates live pages of notation that disappear after a number of seconds specified by the performers, Robert Stillman’s work The Wheel is inscribed on vinyl that is partly degraded by each performace, eventually rendering the music unperformable. In Andy Ingamells’s Waschen, the score is washed off the composer’s body as he performs it; in Louis d’Heudieres’s series Laughter Studies, it exists solely as an mp3 that is responded to in real time; in Maya Verlaak’s Supervision, it takes the form of an interactive sculpture that is physically altered by a flautist’s sound. In each case, the model of the score as a transcription of, or set of instructions for, the ‘work’ has been abandoned in favour of a concept of the score as a dynamic object that is—perhaps—more of a facet of the performance of the piece than a lasting trace of the compositional process. Taken together, the pieces presented are a statement of a number of possible positions from which the ‘work’ of music might be viewed in the present day, and offer a discussion of the relationship of the work of composition and performance with the ‘work’ of music.


Louis D’Heudieres (convenor, chair; Bath Spa University)

Presentation of Laughter Studies 1 and related audio score pieces

Laughter Studies 1 is made with an audio score which is transmitted to two vocalising performers via headphones. Having had little to no time to prepare, the performers react in real time to instructions which tell them how to interpret the sounds they hear. These range from abstract sounds to ones which carry meaningful references to recognisable, everyday events.

Biography: Louis d’Heudieres is a composer based in London. His music has been performed all over the UK, in Europe and in the US, has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Resonance 104.4 FM, DR P2, and has been released on the CDKlassisk label. He obtained a BMus from King’s College London, an MMus in Composition from the Royal College of Music, and is currently studying for a PhD in Composition at Bath Spa University with James Saunders and Matthew Shlomowitz as supervisors.


Karin de Fleyt (York University)

Live performance presentation of Klangfarben Tanz (collaboration with Maya Verlaak, composer)

This piece involves a physical interactive score, one part of which is made of canvas. Amplified sound taken from the flautist sends vibrations into the canvas, causing notes places upon it to move. This creates a feedback loop, whereby the material to be played is constantly changing when sound is happening. The composer has an additional element of control in the form of a torch, which, when lit, allows the flautist to play.

Biography: Karin de Fleyt is a renowned soloist in contemporary music, constantly looking for new experiments with flute, often resulting in great collaborations with many well known composers, one of the most memorable is a ten year long collaboration with Karlheinz Stockhausen. She is currently senior lecturer at Leeds College of Music and visiting teacher at Trinity Laban Conservatoire and School of Arts in Gent (Professional teachers training program). Karin is undertaking a PhD study at University of York on new performer composer collaborations.

Maya Verlaak is a Belgian composer and performer (born in Ghent, 1990). In 2008 she moved to the Netherlands to study at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague (NL), where she obtained both Bachelors and Masters degrees in Composition, studying with Gilius Van Bergeijk, Diderik Haakma Wagenaar, Peter Adriaansz and Matrijn Padding. In March 2015, Maya was accepted into the AHRC funded Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. She moved to Birmingham (UK) and started her PhD in October 2015. Her supervisors are Michael Wolters, Howard Skempton and John Richards.


Dr Charles Céleste Hutchins (University of Kent)

Presentation of Immrama

The notation for Immrama is created in real time via a process which collages various elements that can often be found in graphical scores – geometric shapes, de-contextualised and transformed bits of notation, and phrases of written text. The text is taken from the program that generates the notation, so that the program examines and uses its own source code. The result is intended to be a query into the elements that make notation musical.

Biography: Charles Céleste Hutchins was born in San Jose, California in 1976. He attended Mills College in Oakland, California, where he studied with Maggi Payne. There he acquired a love for the sound of analog electronics. He graduated with a B.A. in 1998. In 2005, he graduated from the MA program at Wesleyan University where he studied with Ron Kuivila and Anthony Braxton. Following that, he did the CCMIX course in France and then the Sonology course at the Royal Conservatory of The Netherlands. He then completed a PhD at the University of Birmingham, England. He has played at venues and festivals around North America and Europe. His music has been played on European and American radio.


Robert Stillman (Canterbury Christ Church University)

Presentation of The Wheel, a sound composition for turntables by Robert Stillman and Matt Wright.

The piece uses a unique set of 5 LP’s onto which over 100 fragments of recorded solo improvisations by Stillman have been machine-cut as looping ‘locked grooves’. The work highlights a dialogue between the ‘fixed’ nature of the sound materials (the endless loops on the discs) and the ‘free’ improvisational process by which the work is given form in performance. The use of the locked-groove LP’s, which serve as both sound content and score for the piece, places the work upon a material foundation which, in its susceptibility to imperfection, unpredictability, and decay, seeks an alternative to the comparative stability of equivalent contemporary digital sampling technologies.

Biography: Robert Stillman is a saxophonist and composer whose musical aesthetic “lends an avant-garde shimmer to pre-modern American sounds” (The Guardian Observer). Integrating vernacular styles of music such as jazz and folk Americana with experimental electronic sound and noise, his performance and composition reflects interests in intuitive models of creativity, idiomatic expression, and the interplay between work-based and improvised artistic processes.


He has released seven albums of his own work, the most recent of which, Rainbow (Orindal Records, 2016) has been featured on BBC Radio 2 (Jamie Cullum) and BBC Radio 3 (Late Junction).  He is also a member of the multi-media ensemble Bog Bodies, which recently developed work for performance and installation during a two-week residency at the Model Arts and Niland Gallery in Sligo, Ireland.


Andy Ingamells (Birmingham Conservatoire)

Lecture-demonstration of Waschen for solo performer

For this performance, the composer-performer stands naked with the word ‘Waschen’ written all over his body. He washes himself using a sponge and bucket of water, singing and erasing the words as he does so. He uses the words and his body as a score: the higher on his body the word is written, the higher the pitch of his voice. The score is gradually effaced and the performance ends when no words remain.

Biography: Andy Ingamells is an experimental musician working with alternative methods of composition that question the distinction between composer and performer. He is a graduate of the Master Artistic Research programme at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, and is currently a PhD candidate at Birmingham Conservatoire. In 2014 he received funding to present his “over-orthodox” performance work at the International Žižek Studies Conference in Cincinnati, USA and his contribution to the Composer-Performer workshop during the 2014 Darmstadt International Summer Course for New Music was described in TEMPO Quarterly Review of New Music as “outstanding … demonstrating a skilful balance of compositional elements and performance qualities, with well-planned theatrical effects”.

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