You can download our conference programme for 2017 here:
You are warmly invited to attend the Fifth Annual RMA Music and/as Process Conference at the University of Wolverhampton’s Performance Hub in Walsall on Saturday 20 May. This year’s conference is in association with the Society for Minimalist Music.
This one-day conference is themed around patterns, with presentations covering a range of subjects from hip hop as musical process to old and new minimalisms, and from sight-reading pattern recognition to compositional structures as dramaturgical tools. Jennie Gottschalk, author of the recent Bloomsbury book Experimental Music since 1970, will give the keynote, and Paul Cassidy will present a solo performance of Steve Reich’s Piano Phase in the evening concert. A detailed programme for the day is attached to this email, and the conference will be followed by an informal meal at the Metro Inn by the Walsall Campus.
Information for the UoW Walsall campus can be found here:
Registration for the conference is free; lunch and refreshments are provided throughout the day. If you would like to attend the conference, please register by following the link to the eventbrite page below, detailing any particular accessibility or dietary requirements:
The recommended accommodation for the conference is the Metro Inn, within a few minutes’ walk of the campus:
There is more accommodation in central Walsall (a 30-min walk from campus, or a short bus/taxi ride away):
Lyndon House Hotel
The Park Inn by Radisson is slightly closer to campus, further along the ring road:
If you have any further questions about the event, please contact Richard Glover.
We look forward to see you there!
The conference is supported by the University of Wolverhampton and the Royal Musical Association
Information for the UoW Walsall campus can be found here:
Please note that there is also an X51 (express) bus service which runs by the Walsall campus from Birmingham city centre.
We’re very pleased to be hosting an associates session at the RMA Music and Philosophy Study Group conference. Our session examines Ephemeral Scores and the Work Concept. The session will include 5 works by composers who have taken different approaches to ephemeral notation and has been covered by the study group’s PhD student representative: Louis D’Heudeiers.
Read all of the details of the composers and works here.
Full details for the conference, including early bird registration details, can be found here.
Our session description:
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.
We’re looking forward to hearing from Dr Jennie Gottschalk who will deliver the keynote address at this year’s conference. Some may be familiar with her website, Sound Expanse, that documents many experimental music composers, their pieces, and approaches. She has recently published the book Experimental Music Since 1970 with Bloomsbury. This book is a welcome addition to the literature on this area and a much-needed overview of the current field. As a composer, author and music practitioner, Jennie will be drawing on her range of experience to speak to our optional theme of Music and Pattern.
Her current work includes an interview project that aims to give voice to wide range of perspectives on the field of experimental music. Through work as a transcriptionist she says that she has, ‘taken a real interest in what people say, how they say it, and how they relate to each other.’ She is trying to bring this into her work in experimental music, through this series. Experimental Music is historically difficult to define with multiple strands of practice and many different approaches in many different countries and scenes. In an interview, ‘Non-Fictional Music’, for Van Magazine, Gottschalk has reflected on her approach in this work in experimental music. She describes this practice as music that ‘planted me more firmly and consciously in the place where I was’. This evocation of the personal element of writing about music as well as making it is a refreshing an often quite unique part of her work in the area.
Jennie Gottschalk comes from Boston. She holds a bachelor’s degree in composition from The Boston Conservatory (2001), and a master’s degree and doctorate from Northwestern University (2008). Her teachers have included Larry Bell, Yakov Gubanov, Jay Alan Yim, Augusta Read Thomas, and Aaron Cassidy. Her dissertation and current work explore connections between American pragmatist thought and experimental music.
More details of her talk will be published in the run-up to the conference. You can explore her compositions at her personal website.
RMA Music and/as Process Study Group
Debut album Call for Works
The Music and/as Process Study Group are curating the first in what will be an ongoing series of albums. The album will be released as a free download on www.bandcamp.com, under the title of Music and/as Process.
Requirements for submission:
- The work/s must have been presented or performed at a Music and/as Process conference.
- Please include the full title of the work, and the name of the composer/s to whom the work should be credited.
- Files must be no more than 291MB.
- Files must be in one of the following formats: .wav, .aif or .flac
- Should your work be included in the album, you consent to your name and / or the work’s name being included in any promotional material created by the Study Group.
- If you are not the work’s sole copyright holder, please obtain the written consent of all other co-writers in advance of the work before submitting it for consideration.
- If the work has been released or published previously, please obtain the written consent of all parties who have any rights to the work in advance of the work before submitting for consideration.
Each work will be fully credited to the composer/s, and the Music and/as Process Study Group will make no claim to copyright with any of the works, and no profit will be made by the Study Group, or anyone associated with it, as part of the release.
Deadline for submission: 20th March, 2017.
Intended release date: 20th May 2017, to coincide with the 5th Annual Music and/as Process Conference at the University of Wolverhampton.
For further information, or any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We are delighted to announce that Howard Skempton will join us as our invited keynote speaker at this year’s conference. He will address our optional theme from his wealth of compositional and collaborative experience.
Howard Skempton is a professional composer whose works have been published by Oxford University Press since 1994. His best known work is “Lento” (1990), commissioned by the BBC for the BBC Symphony Orchestra and was performed at 2010 BBC Proms. Much of his music is available on CD. The Oxford University Press website includes discography, a biography and details of recent compositions. He is an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music.
‘Only the Sound Remains’ was shortlisted for the 2011 Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards. The piece, a large scale composition for viola and chamber ensemble, was written for the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and had its premiere in 2010. Howard has had previous success at the Awards with his string quartet,Tendrils, written for the 2004 Huddersfield Festival. It won the Royal Philharmonic Society award for chamber-scale composition. Tendrils also won the Chamber Music category in the BBC Radio 3’s British Composer Awards. ‘The Moon is Flashing’ won the 2008 award in the vocal category.
Howard has continued to compose choral music, including an Advent antiphon for Merton College Oxford and anthems for Chester and Wells Cathedrals.
RMA Music and/as Process Study Group 4th Annual Conference
2nd July 2016, Bath Spa University
with the support of the Centre for Musical Research at Bath Spa University
This year the Music and/as Process study group extends its focus to collective working practices which involve group decision making as part of the composition process, rehearsal, or performance. The day will include practice-led presentations, workshops, and papers and will be based at Bath Spa University’s Newton Park campus.
Call for Contributions
We welcome proposals for contributions in the following formats:
- Paper (20 minutes)
- Lecture-recital (30 minutes)
- Participatory lecture/workshop (30 minutes)
Proposals on any aspect of process in music are welcome, although this year we are particularly interested in proposals that address:
- collective composition working practice
- collective decision-making in rehearsal
- live group decision-making in performance
- uses of technology to mediate collective behaviours and decision-making
- formation and operation of collectives
- distributed creativity
Proposals should include all of the details of the proposed contribution, to include:
- the name(s) of presenter(s)
- title of paper/lecture-recital/workshop
- 300-word abstract
- [for participatory workshops only] description of the format of the workshop, including a full list of any technical requirements and other resources.
Please send your proposals by email to Lauren Redhead:email@example.com
Deadline for proposals: 18th March 2016
Notification of successful presentations can be expected in April.
In your proposal please clearly indicate all of the presenters, including any performers if you do not intend to perform your own work. Unfortunately, the study group is not able to provide any financial assistance to attend the conference, or to support the creation or performance of works at the conference. All presenters and delegates will be required to pay the conference registration fee, but this will be kept as low as possible.
attend the conference, or to support the creation or performance of works at the conference. All presenters and delegates will be required to pay the conference registration fee, but this will be kept as low as possible.
Compositional Processes as Research
RMA Annual Conference, University of Birmingham, 9th – 11th September 2015
Presenters: Dr James Saunders (Bath Spa University), Dr Fabrice Fitch (Royal Northern College of Music), Dr Larry Goves (Royal Northern College of Music), Dr Richard Glover (Wolverhampton University), Dr Steve Gisby (independent composer), Cara Stacey (University of Cape Town/School of Oriental and African Studies)
This session incorporates two major areas of interest for the Music and/as Process Study Group: music which is composed from, by, or can be said to be entirely, processes and practice-led or practice-as research. The session will comprise the presentation of research in composition, drawn from a call for works amongst the study group members, which includes or is based on process from members of the study group working across a variety of genres, styles and approaches in contemporary music. Music as process represents a compositional trend or tradition in contemporary music which has been most readily recognised in minimalist musics but also includes serialism, algorithmic composition, the inclusion of pre-tonal devices and non-western influences in music, and improvisatory approaches. As a result, today the composition of and using process transcends genre and represents an important line of enquiry for composer-researchers and improviser-researchers.
This session aims to represent the composers in the Music and/as Study Group in an innovative way. It creates the opportunity for them to present their work in a way which is particularly appropriate to research in this area, highlighting both the research and practice components of their work equally. The members of the Music and/as Process Study Group are investigating many relatively new areas or practice and research; in particular the spaces between improvisation and composition and the boundaries between practice and process. Recent areas of interest have emerged as devised music, collaboration, and process in relation to graphic, text and open notation.
Important considerations in the presentation of practice-led research are that the music should be allowed to speak for itself and that that the music should be recognised as the research itself, rather than merely a presentation or demonstration of research knowledge. These two considerations are reflected in the non-traditional presentation of the work of practitioner-researchers in this session. It attempts to bridge the gap between research presentations and practice presentations in a lecture recital style structure which will be part way between a concert and a conference session. Composers will offer short introductions to their music, accompanied by critical programme notes. Their works will then be heard in full either as live performances or recordings. Such presentation of work has been trialled at the annual Music and/as Process conferences leading to fruitful discussion about issues in and around the music presented, and the perception by the composers involved that the research aims of their work have been clearly articulated.
Presenter abstracts and biographies here
Presenter Abstracts and Biographies
James Saunders, things to do
things to do is an ongoing project which currently comprises a series of autonomous pieces which may be performed individually or simultaneously. Each of the constituent pieces uses a set of instructions in different categories (currently noises, pitches, devices and processes) which are spoken by players during the performance and which govern the actions made by the players. Players respond to instructions they can hear by realizing the defined actions as soon as possible after they are spoken. The differences in each piece, and the relationships between the players, are determined by constraints which govern who each player responds to and who gives instructions. It creates modes of interaction between individuals, allows group behaviours to emerge, and reveals the personal characteristics of each performer in an immediate way. Players may use any instruments, sound-producing objects, devices or sound processing equipment (digital, analogue, or acoustic), and performances are characterised by the wide range of personal choices brought together as a group. The pieces model behavioural processes and develop my interest in embodied systems, drawing on research in decision-making theory.
Fabrice Fitch, Per Serafino Calbarsi IIIa: Antistrophes (pour voix seule)
This work is the last panel of a triptych based on the work of François Rabelais. It sets or ‘enacts’ a spoonerist alexandrine in French. In keeping with the French tradition of complex spoonerisms, which are something of a national pastime, the encoded version is ‘clean’ (‘que j’aim’ le vent qui siffle dans la flût’ de pan’) and its decoded version obscene (‘que qui s’enfle dans le flan: j’aim’ la vie de put[e]’). Spoonerisms are meant to be read (aloud or not), so the piece is a ‘performance’ of it in real time, gradually unfolding first the coded version (page 1), then a transition from the coded version to the uncoded one (page 2 and 3). Part 1 begins with a single syllable, adding one with each line until all twelve are present (but each line has two syllables not used in the previous line, and subtracts one). Page 2 reverses the process, and Page 3 begins it again until the uncoded version is revealed in full. The number of syllables in each line and in each section are thus regulated by triangular numbers and Fibonacci relationships. In addition, each syllable is set to a single pitch, a one-to-one relationship that is maintained throughout. (The resulting twelve-tone row is derived from a fragment in Boulez’s Pli selon pli.)
A historical precedent (in which learned and ludic are held in balance) might be proposed in Josquin’s motet Ut phoebi radiis, which also uses accretive processes focused on the syllable, whose effects have direct consequences for the interaction of text and music. However, the tension in this piece lies (in my view) in the way that the listener’s perception of these very basic, strict serial and combinative procedures co-exists alongside the markedly anarchic shifts of (textual) meaning to which they give rise. (Spoonerism is, after all, a form of combinatoriality.)
Larry Goves, Two from Dr Suss
Dr Suss is a poem by Matthew Welton which responds to Simon Patterson’s lithograph The Great Bear. Patterson takes Henry C. Beck’s 1931 map of the London Underground and replaces all the stations’ names with proper nouns in thirteen categories (one for each underground train line). Welton alphabetises these nouns and groups them in thirteen sections; each sentence within each section is identical apart from a changing ‘Patterson’ noun and a descriptive word of his own.
Two from Dr Suss is part of an ongoing compositional response to this text which explores process as a tool for compositional variety, framework and engagement with performance practice. In Getting into the car… each sentence is set partially traditionally notated and partially governed by speech rhythm. For each repetition a spoken syllable is removed and replaced by either/or a note from the flute or cello. This process of transformation produces subtly unpredictable rhythmic variety, a negotiation between the performers for the identity for the spoken rhythm, informs the compositional actions and provides a structural framework for the rest of the piece. The second song adheres to my more usual approach to composition but affected by the processes in the first.
Richard Glover, Logical Harmonies (1) and (2) (2010) for solo piano
These two short piano pieces present an example of simple audible processes: the chords of the circle of fifths are played unison in both hands, after which one hand phases the progression by one chord at a time until returning back to unison with the other hand. Logical Harmonies (1) phases the right hand, (2) the left. These pieces came out of obsessions with the idea of non-arbitrary composition; an unattainable ideal, but one in which as few decisions are made in the construction process. I have discussed elsewhere that, if I feel a process is right, then it needs no interference from me; these two pieces best represent that notion within my overall compositional output. The pieces are also designed to take full advantage of what I deem the clarity of the piano to be; I would articulate what is meant by this, and how the register, dynamic, and notational design support this idea.
Steve Gisby, Fragmented Melodies
Fragmented Melodies (2014) is the latest composition as part of my interest in catalogue pieces. The piece combines processes of both pitch and rhythm, working through all seventy permutations of a bisected duration: eight beats, constructed of four played beats and four silent beats. The rhythmic patterns appear in a reverse binary sequence, beginning with 11110000 and ending with 00001111. Pitches are assigned to specific beats, which are then heard or not heard, depending on the rhythmic patterns.
The concept of catalogue pieces has been my primary interest as a composer over the last few years. This is based on my fascination with combinatorics – the branch of mathematics concerned with finite structures. My recent pieces have been built upon process that rigorously work their way through all permutations of a given idea, in combination with some form of indeterminacy. The juxtaposition of strict, mathematical logic whilst also allowing the performers some freedom of choice within given parameters, continues to be an area of great interest for me. Fragmented Melodies, however, marks a departure from this idea, and will hopefully lead to new (for me) compositional territory.
Cara Stacey, Ligwalagwala
Ligwalagwala is a multi-movement composition created from makhoyane musical bow songs composed during my PhD research. The work is written for voice, makhoyane bow, visuals, and electronics. The doctoral research investigates how this Swazi gourd-resonated bow and its music are representative of individual artistic expression in Swaziland. It examines how the makhoyane interacts with the greater Swazi national cultural imaginary. I study compositional methods and modes of musical transmission amongst key bow players in Swaziland, as well as perceptions surrounding musical bows throughout Swazi society.
From Conquergood’s idea of “dialogical perfomance” (1985), Feld’s “dialogic editing”, the principal methodology in this research is through “compositional conversations”. The act of performing makhoyane songs involves careful aural response to quiet overtones, creative music-making, but also involves the player’s body as a mechanism by which the instrument makes sound (the chest acts as the calabash mute and provides added resonance). Through composition-based practice, I compose makhoyane songs myself and perform these for the musicians I work with, in order to stimulate conversation surrounding the music, but also to further my ethnographic coperformative witnessing. Ligwalagwala is a creative demonstration of these makhoyane songs and their interaction with space and landscape in Swaziland.
James Saunders is a composer with an interest in modularity. He performs in the duo Parkinson Saunders. He is Head of the Centre for Musical Research at Bath Spa University. See http://www.james-saunders.com for more information.
Fabrice Fitch is active as both composer and musicologist working in the field of early music. As composer he has worked with and been performed by Ensemble Exposé, distractfold, Exaudi, Trio Atem, Fretwork, Ensemble Leones, the Orlando Consort, The Kreutzer String Quartet, and individual performers including Neil Heyde, Peter Hill, Christopher Redgate, Daniel Serafini, Carl Raven, and Richard Craig. He is completing a triptych commissioned by Trio Atem (with funds from the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust) based on the work of François Rabelais. He is currently Head of the Graduate School at the Royal Northern College of Music.
Larry Goves is a composer based in Manchester. He has written for numerous ensembles, had music broadcast around the world (including BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 6 Music, New Zealand’s Concert FM and New York’s WQZR) and been released on NMC, Dutton Epoch, The London Sinfonietta’s Jerwood Series, Nonclassical, Slip Discs and PRAH. He is a tutor in composition and academic studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, runs the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain composition course and is the former composer in residence for Royal Holloway, University of London.
Richard Glover is a composer and researcher investigating the perception, construction and notation of experimental musics. He has written book chapters on the music of Phill Niblock and the role of technology in minimalist music, and Overcoming form: reflections on immersive listening was co-authored with Bryn Harrison and published in November 2013. He is currently working on a major new publication concerning the temporal experience in experimental music, and his portrait cd Logical Harmonies was released on the ‘another timbre’ label in October 2013.
Steve Gisby is a composer, bass guitarist and educator living near London. His music has been performed in the UK, Europe and USA. As a bass guitarist, he has performed throughout the UK, as well as on HTV West (ITV), Channel 4, and satellite broadcasts to the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe and the Far East. In May 2014, along with pianist Michael Bonaventure, he gave the world premiere performance of Tom Johnson’s Intervals. He has given lectures and papers at IRCAM in Paris, Furman University in South Carolina, California State University at Long Beach, Surrey University, the University of Huddersfield and Canterbury Christ Church University. He also works as an examiner for Trinity College London
Cara Stacey is a South African musician, composer and researcher. She is a pianist but also specialises in different southern African musical bows (umrhubhe, uhadi, makhoyane) and vocal traditions. Cara holds a BMUS from the South African College of Music (University of Cape Town). She completed her Masters in musicology at Edinburgh University in 2009 and a MMus in performance from SOAS (London) in southern African musical traditions in 2012. Cara is a doctoral candidate at the UCT and SOAS, researching the makhoyane bow of Swaziland. Her first solo album features Shabaka Hutchings, Seb Rochford, Ruth Goller, and Hugh Jones and will be released in 2015.
Call for Presentation of Works
Music and/as Study Group: Compositional Processes as Research
Deadline: 14th December
Proposals for presentations of compositional works which incorporate process are sought for a session led by the RMA Music and/as Process Study Group during the RMA Annual Conference 2015 (9th-11th September, University of Birmingham).
The session title is “Compositional Processes as Research” and we expect to include up to five presentations within the 90 minute session.
This session attempts to bridge the gap between research presentations and practice presentations in a lecture recital style structure which will be part way between a concert and a conference session. Composers will offer short introductions to their music, accompanied by critical programme notes. Their works will then be heard in full either as live performances or recordings.
Proposals to take part in this session are invited and should include:
– the title of the proposed work
– a 200 word summary of the work and the role of process in its composition or performance
– a 100 word biography of the composer/presenter
– a list of any technical requirements
– an indication as to whether the work would be performed live or heard as a recording (both are acceptable
Acoustic, acousmatic and audio-visual works can all be considered, although very complicated technical set-ups may not be possible to accommodate. It is likely that only stereo presentation of audio will be possible.
Please send your proposals to Lauren Redhead (firstname.lastname@example.org) until 14th December 2014
A panel drawn from the study group committee will make a decision on which works to include by 22nd December 2014.
Details of the RMA annual conference can be found here: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/lcahm/departments/music/events/2015/rma-conference-2015.aspx
Further details of the Music and/as Process Study Group can be found here: https://musicandasprocess.org/
Note:All participants (save Dent and Le Huray guests and designated conference organisers) are required to register for the concference and pay the applicable fee. Registration fees cannot be guaranteed at this stage, but are expected to be no more than £65 for RMA members and £80 for non-RMA members, with concessions available at half-price and a discount offered for early-bird registration. The study group also cannot cover any of these costs on behalf of presenters.
Any additional costs, such as travel, accommodation, and costs associated with any performers or the hire of instruments or equipment, will also need to be met by the presenters.
Vocal Constructivists – In-Form-ation
Formed in 2011 by Jane Alden, Vocal Constructivists have performed a variety of contemporary works, some of which are composed by members of the ensemble. The ensemble specialise in open and graphic notation and work together to produce a musical discourse as part of a process towards a performance – they state that there is no artistic director in the group but that each performer is integral to the creative and performative processes of the group . The singers also work with scores of fixed notation, and a variety of forms of composition will be explored in their concert today. The ensemble was the first to perform Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise as an exclusively vocal piece in its entirety, and performed an excerpt of it at the concert, as well as a selection of pieces by American and British composers.
Vocal Constructivists are expanding their repertoire constantly and are performing a world premiere of Charles Hutchins’ Immrama, a work commissioned for the ensemble, today. Their appreciation of all forms of notation means that they are developing as an ensemble and continually gaining notoriety.
– Kelly Butler, Music and/as Process Intern
Video edited by Adam Byard, Music and/as Process Intern