UPDATE: Summer 2018

It has been a rather busy summer so far, even on top of the usual frantic entanglement of marking and assessment that a university position demands. This is a little update as to my various research activities over the last two or three months, with some previews of upcoming projects.

Back in May, The House of Bedlam gave the first performance of my new piece Meeting the Universe Halfway (2018, for four instruments and three custom-built apparatuses). You can read more about the piece itself in an earlier blog post here and on its work page here. The video of that first performance is now online and I’ve embedded it below. Huge thanks to the House of Bedlam for making this video documentation.

The entire project was a massive learning experience, so dearly and wonderfully supported by the musicians of The House of Bedlam. Writing the music and building the instruments (however ‘simply’ those instruments might be in terms of construction) radically changed my writing process, which was exciting. What has emerged is very much a kind of unapologetic ‘first step’, something that I’m working to develop and refine in future work.

Currently, I’m finishing the first draft of a piece for Canadian percussionist Noam Bierstone, called The Severing. I wrote some introductory remarks about this piece in a previous blog post here. Logistically, the piece involves working with smearing the human body in vegetable fat and the relationship between the sonic/choreographic relationship in different kinds of actions. I’ve included a preview page of the score below.

  The Severing  (2018, in progress) - p.4

The Severing (2018, in progress) - p.4

I should also add a few words about MATTERS OF MATTER, which some people have contacted me about. The project homepage is here. It may not come as any surprise to hear that my ambitious plan to compose part of this series every week has fallen ill of time. But that is not to say that the project is dead by any means. I have several new scores in preparation and will be posting these up as and when they emerge as complete. Suffice to say the project has moved from a weekly to simply a permanently ongoing status for the time being. Thanks to all those who have already contacted me to express an interest in the work. There is much more to come!

My more theoretical endeavours has also seen recent outings, most recently at the 2018 Material Cultures of Music Notation Conference, held at the University of Utrecht back in April. You can read my paper in full on my website here. As well as that, I’ve been working on a chapter on the materiality of time (working title: Time, Materiality, and Music) for a proposed volume on Music and Time, which I’m co-editing with my music-psychologist friend Michelle Phillips (RNCM) - a first draft is with the publishers. I’m also participating quite heavily in the September RMA (Royal Musicological Association) Annual Conference in Bristol. I’ll be giving papers as part of themed sessions on music and materialism (convened with colleagues Isabella van Elferen (Kingston) and Samuel Wilson (GSMD)) and notions of making (convened as part of the RMA Sonic Makers’ Research Group, which I run with Scott McLaughlin (Leeds)). I’m also acting as a respondent to the session on Music and/as Process (convened by Lauren Redhead (Christchurch Canterbury, although moving departments soon)). So lots to do.

Wishing all of you a productive yet relaxing summer. Hope to catch up with many familiar faces over the coming months. I’ll be back with more updates soon.

Matthew