Sounds, Software and Scores - Blog Post 1
It’s a rainy Cardiff morning and I’m walking across the Bay wondering what’s going to happen. It’s the first meeting of a group of composers that have been chosen as CoDI Composers (Electronic).
There are six of us – CoDI Electronic Composers and we have a full schedule ahead of us. Setting up a program for Wales-based/Welsh composers such as this is a visionary thing to do. Organisations such as Ty Cerdd and the people that fund projects such as this are supporting the music of Wales and developing and growing the Electronic music scene, which is an important thing to do because it brings a group of people together which can develop a show the diverse musical culture of Wales. In many ways it creates a platform of composers that might be called upon to develop other opportunities in the future. It’s a very different thing composing and playing a piece yourself than composing for others to perform.The work needs to be able to be understood and interpreted in order for the piece to be performed and retain the vision and intention of the composer. Composing and documenting Electronic music can be a complex affair particularly when using a multitude of different software, sounds, samples, effects and controllers, not to mention the 8 speaker system that will be available at Pontio (the venue that will host Bangor Music Festival, Wales). We’d discussed documentation, scores and ‘instructions’ in the initial composer’s meeting at Ty Cerdd and been given a set of examples that ranged from diagrams, to time lines and lists. Myself I tend to use scores and set up the software that I use to relate to the time and the events that happen in a performance, but with this work I want to document it in a way that is interesting, meaningful and displays some of the thinking behind the piece. By coincidence I’d met up with friends a music typesetter and someone who’d worked with Hugh Davies and been part of the the early synth scene in the UK, we’d had a long discussion about how to write/score electronic music and it seemed as though anything was possible. It's worth looking here for an idea of the different approaches to notation
Currently I’m working on a piece that is inspired by the hillfort Pen Dinas (sometimes known as Dinas Maelor), based in Penparcau, a village in Ceredigion, Wales. I’ve been looking at the archaeology of the site and have been thinking about the site, its sounds, archaeology and the myths and stories about Pen Dinas might feed into the composition. Earlier in the year I started to plan out an opera with a Finnish composer focusing on a performance that would happen concurrently in Wales and Finland, which is still in progress, this led me to reflect on something that has some cultural significance in my local area. One difficulty with this sort of work is going to be recording the ways in which the work has emerged (which is important to me). I’m currently looking at ways in which I might do this. Perhaps using something like MELD might enable me to do this.
In the future I want to start to share more audio samples, images and thoughts, so that people can see how the work is starting to develop. Minor thoughts - As a CoDI composer you're encouraged to think about the way that you might want to develop as a composer, in our case the focus is Electronic music, so I've added a couple of thoughts below: Mentoring - Building a network of contacts is important, understanding the scene at a local and global level and having someone that you might meet (or even Skype) to discuss these sorts of issues and get career and compositional advice is key to the dev elopement of the Electronic music scene in Wales. Skills - I think that it would be great to have some sort of Software refresher course for a couple of days in the future, this may be after the performance, software such as MAX/MSP and Ableton Live would be my initial choices. Maybe Reaktor & Prue Data too. Publishing and rights is also something that I would like to understand more.
Opportunities - What opportunities are out there and what is worth applying for? The CoDI Interact Forum is definitely pushing info out to people there have been some really interesting opportunities that I've seen. Are there other places that people use too, are their Wales specific projects and are their organisations in Wales that would host Wales-based composers, or joint schemes with other regions?
Project Development & Funding - I'm not necessarily thinking about funding for myself, but more about putting projects together that could involve multiple partners to develop a larger project, or series of projects and performances. I think that it's important to get things happening in more rural and geographically remote areas, not just because I live in such an area, but because it's key to the development of a vibrant and diverse music scene in Wales.