So, after diving into the sea of technological and electronic composition, I have emerged with not only a greater appreciation for this approach to composing, but a greater understanding of how it all works (which, considering how little I knew is a rather mighty claim indeed). Before I go any further, I would like to say a massive thank you to Tŷ Cerdd, Deborah Keyser for her enduring support, Matthew Thistlewood for his ability to make me look interesting in a photo, Andrew Lewis and team for their seemingly unending patience, Michael Rafferty, and of course UPROAR who continue to amaze with their dedication and ability – more on all of this below!
As mentioned in my last post, I came into this particular composer scheme with a complete lack of skill when it came to electronics and writing for them – not to mention attempting to blend this unforgiving medium with the sounds of a live acoustic ensemble. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to write going into this project, and I was looking to equip myself with some skills to be able to take this approach forward in my work and use some of the technology again. I collected some recordings from Portwrinkle beach in Cornwall before the scheme began, with the intention of crafting a world of scandalous smuggling in music. With some help and advice from Andrew and the other composers on the scheme, I was pointed in the direction of the programme Ableton Live, which, I was told, was a fairly simple and direct way of achieving the play-back of my samples. After some YouTube tutorials, I managed to pull together something similar to what we used in the concert last week – the true wonder of technology is the facilitation of learning and creating! Although I can’t say this approach to writing came naturally to me, it felt like a natural extension of my methods of crafting an atmosphere, as though it was an extra colour on my palette.
The most rewarding thing about this scheme has been the talent and dedication to new music that everyone involved has had. UPROAR is made up of the kindest and most supportive advocates that were so willing to explain, correct, challenge, and create throughout the months working on the scheme. We had the opportunity to stay in the same hotel as the performers during our time in Bangor, which, in addition to the workshops and rehearsals, meant everyone was able to socialise which made the experience so much more enjoyable (insert shout-out to the Eryl Mor Hotel).
I was extremely happy with the outcome of my piece following the three days of rehearsals in Bangor. Yes, there are a few little things I would change – balance, sample refinement, and the odd notation, but the piece came together in a way that I had envisioned, and I was pleased with. I wouldn’t hesitate to work again with anyone who was involved in this composer scheme, it has been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences as a composer I have had. The 8-hour train/bus/car journey home from Bangor in storm Dennis, however, I could’ve done without!
As an example of how much everyone enjoyed this scheme, an obligatory composers selfie had to be taken…