The first session back after lockdown
I've just finished a workshop with Creative Collective 2.0, the new incarnation of Creative Collective for this academic year. It’s a smaller ensemble with a couple of familiar faces and some welcome new additions.
I think our collaboration has developed into a pretty exciting and unique situation. Due to Covid, our planned performance wasn’t able to go ahead, and there was a piece written for an ensemble which has now largely changed orchestration.
After the session, I’m really excited about where this could go. With a new smaller group, there’s potential to work on ideas in more detail and explore more delicate textures. I can also see this piece being more heavily scored than before. Most of the players are comfortable reading different kinds of notation, so from a compositional perspective, I’m going to start putting together a ‘patchwork’ score of standard notation, tab, lead sheets and groups of notes/rhythms to improvise around.
After the session, I’m really excited about where this could go. With a new smaller group, there’s potential to work on ideas in more detail and explore more delicate textures
Alongside the piece, I’m planning to write a kind of instruction manual for one of the ensembles to take over and allow the music to be recreated with new ensembles in the future. As the group will evolve on an annual basis, it means that this piece could be performed by multiple incarnations of Creative Collective, and give members the chance to work on a larger-scale score with the group.
As traditional performances can’t be relied upon in the current climate, we discussed the idea of filming the piece in our rehearsal space. I love this idea. It’ll show people how these kinds of projects look on the inside, and the layout of the room where we’ve made the material. It would be great to think about the film itself as part of the piece, and discuss artistic decisions as a group. We could collectively decide on the kind of editing that would suit the audio at particular points in the piece. We could even incorporate extra musical elements like lighting and visual art into the video performance more easily than in a traditional concert.
All exciting stuff to think about before I next visit the group in Leeds. In the meantime, though, it’s time to start re-writing.
I think our collaboration has developed into a pretty exciting and unique situation. Due to Covid, our planned performance wasn’t able to go ahead, and there was a piece written for an ensemble which has now largely changed orchestration
Last session before lockdown
Just before we went into lockdown, I visited Creative Collective in Leeds. It was a really productive workshop, where we developed and finalised the main chunks of the piece. I brought the group bits of written material and some ideas for transitions, and we experimented with a few options for what could happen. Members’ energy and suggestions were great. I felt like we had a good flow and were building a strong sound for the group within the piece.
After this session, I had a bunch of recordings to go away with. I played around with these using editing software at home, trying different structures and manipulations of the ideas we’d developed in the room. I then drew the structure out using big shapes and marks to represent roughly where the material sat within the piece and how each idea was introduced. I also started to blend the ideas and develop them into one coherent language, rather than separate building blocks of music. Here’s a photo of the drawing:
In this version of the pieces, the separate instrument families in the ensemble were being treated like separate choirs. The guitars provided a lot of the textural content, the winds, strings and voices playing and singing melodic lines with wide-spaced harmony. The two percussionists were the glue between it all.
The Adopt a Composer project matches vocal and instrumental leisure-time music groups with some of the UK’s most promising composers to collaborate on creating a new piece of music. The project leads to a premiere performance and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. If you’re a music group or composer and you’d like to take part, find out more.