I’m really excited to be able to show you this short trailer for a project* I’m involved with (deliciously shot and edited by Angela Guyton). It’s only a couple of minutes - have a watch and see what you think.
The project itself is called m62 (yes, like the motorway). Here’s the official promo paragraph:
“Just as the M62 highway spans the North of England, connecting several of the major cultural centres of the region - Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds - m62 connects three extremely diverse compositional aesthetics from the same region - Emily Howard (Liverpool), Matthew Sergeant (Manchester) and Maurico Pauly (Leeds) with the virtuoso chamber ensemble scapegoat (Joshua Hyde - saxophone, Noam Bierstone - percussion). The composers and performers have been placed into a position of unusually close collaboration and through such collaboration three new works are emerging, each taking their composer on a new and unanticipated journey, (re-)discovering new sonic spaces and places along the way.”
Words such as space and place are particularly useful to the kind of rough ideas I’m working with for the new piece. I’ve ben reading a bit about the psycho-architectural notion of ‘place’ quite a lot recently. Place as distinct from space.
What’s occurring to me from my investigations is that 'space’ is an architectural substance, a substance from which a 'place’ is made. That is to say that a place is more than just a somehow distinctive point or zone in an architectural (or 'architectured’) world, a place becomes a place through the human experience that engulfs and intertwines with it. To put it another way: St. Paul’s Cathedral might be considered a place because of a multitude of experiential aspects of its presence - not just its’ looks’ (its distinctive façade, etc.), not just the possibly reverential 'atmosphere’ of its interior but also its location within the city (of London) and the means one can accesses it through the the various transport infrastructures (etc.). In short, it becomes a place through peoples’ un/shared experience of the space it occupies.
And this got me a-thinking. What is a musical ’place’ as distinct from a musical ’space’? I.e. Can two different musical personalities (a musical personality assigned to, say, a saxophone and a different musical personality assigned to, say, a percussion-ist/instrument) be felt as occupying the same musical place, even though their own instrumental-cum-material personalities are completely distinct? Like witnessing two unrelated persons of contrasting temperaments explore St. Paul’s Cathedral simultaneously. Can a sense of St. Paul’s somehow emerge through relaying these two persons’ experience of such a place?
As regular readers might by now have presumed, this piece will form one of the final components of my cycle ’the eleven churches of lalibela’. This one - the work currently in progress for scapegoat via m62 - is called bete gabriel-rufa'el. As always, the title refers to one of the eleven(+) churches at the Unesco World Heritage site in Lalibela, Northern Ethiopia. This particular church is the only example within Lalibela dedicated to two icons simultaneously: the angels Gabriel and Rufael.
So, my questions for the new piece follow this line of enquiry. What is a musical space? How might it be occupied to form a sense of a musical place? And how might the occupiers remain as felt somehow distinct from that which is occupied?
That’s the idea anyway. I’ll let you know how it pans out…