always extra folds: A Composition Portfolio
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CitationSwithinbank, Christopher. 2020. always extra folds: A Composition Portfolio. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
AbstractThis portfolio dissertation brings together a selection of the musical work I produced over seven years (2013–20). My work during this time evolved to embrace new modes of engaging with performers and audiences. I sought to question the physical relationships between performers and their instruments, to consider the frame of the concert experience, and to reevaluate the collaborative and co-compositional strategies that a written score may produce in rehearsal and performance. The eight scores included represent the range of approaches I took during my time at Harvard, from traditionally notated scores for familiar instruments to text scores for more or less flexible groups of performers. They also reflect my interests in self-built instruments and extending performance possibilities through audiovisual digital media.
Tomorrow I will build a house here, if I can hold still (2014) — the first work developed at Harvard — demonstrates an increasing focus on touch, fluidity of instrumental and sonic gesture, and marks the beginning of my embrace of longer durations and sustained sonic textures. A trio of scores — rumour — distant land (2014), always extra folds of birds of paper and you could move your finger along the length of them and have witnesses (2017), and I began the day inside the world trying to look at it, but it was lying on my face, making it hard to see. (2018–20) — document an evolving practice of score creation that takes a dynamic and open working relationship with performers and performance contexts as its point of departure. These text scores often permit flexibility when it comes to the precise instrumental resources required, but they also aim to change the purpose of rehearsal and performance. These scores are designed to be discarded during the rehearsal process, opening it to collaborative acts of creation, sharing responsibility between composer and performer. A series of closely related works — local bond (2015), union–seam (2016), and union|haze (2016) — demonstrate a notational practice that prescribes a formal and temporal flow, while leaving space for carefully balanced moment-to-moment adjustments as performers adapt to each other and their instruments. Core to all three of these pieces is a viola and cello hybrid instrument, which at times requires four performers to work together to produce a single sound. The 2018 ensemble work, this line comes from the past, in some ways synthesises many of the approaches I have explored over the past years. It marks a return to a more traditional instrumental writing and fixed form, but seeks to draw on the sonic and instrumental research of earlier pieces, translating those for a different setting.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37366070
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