Our first play through on Sunday 3rd April of “Sound Scape” was quite an experience. Because my house is too small for all the sculpture objects and the 10 musicians who had turned up to play, I had prepared drawings of the nature objects in a grid with instructions on how to move round it. Initially there was some confusion but even in the first play through, it became obvious that it was working well. On the second time of playing, everyone had worked out how to move round the objects and it worked much better. Part of it almost moved me to tears. The idea is that when we are in a suitable venue that he musicians will walk from nature object/sculpture to nature object/sculpture and play the sounds so that it will become an interactive work.
In time the sounds will be recorded and arranged so that the general public will cause the music to be played as they walk around – but that is only in its initial stages.
I am gradually sourcing the nature art elements and hope to have them ready for a rehearsal in the not too distant future. Below are Julia Harding’s comments, the composer, on her reaction to the initial playing of “Sound Scape”.
The first playing of the music for Sound Scape was both exciting and a bit scary at the same time! Lorna explained the rationale for her piece to us all and then I introduced the music. Each section of the piece is intended to reflect or suggest the essence of the natural object that Lorna will represent with a sculpture.
Although I was able to work out the musical content of each section quite quickly, it has been very challenging to find a way to write parts that allow for flexibility of instrumentation in terms of their keys, timbres and ranges. This has meant that, to some extent, I have to let the performers choose which octaves they can play in to achieve the musical effects in terms of the dynamics, articulation as well as selecting which phrases within a section might be repeated or played in a different order. This means that the composer is only in charge of the processes in the music but will not know what will emerge from these in the course of the performance – only that it will be different every time!
Personally, this has proved rather challenging. In my usual work as a musician and music teacher, I am almost always trying to achieve an ‘end result’ and used to the musical choices and processes being defined by the composer (through the medium of the musical score) so being a member of a group which is open to exploring Minimalist and other Contemporary music has been a very interesting experience for me. It is also fantastic to have such a good group of people who totally enter into the spirit of trying new things. Every time we try a new piece, the first time sounds a bit chaotic, and yesterday was no exception(!), but we managed to work through that so that on our second attempt I could hear that everybody was starting to listen to each other, recognising the individual sections of the pieces and getting to grips with the piece.
We have arranged another play through of “Sound Scape” on May 29th at my house, and on June 1st, half term, have booked the church in Macclesfield where KEMS Concert Band rehearse weekly, for an actual performance with the sculptures and the musicians moving around according to the grid instructions. This will be very exciting and probably a bit nail-biting!
Julia has completed her compositions for the 9 sculptures and I am well on the way with making/acquiring them.
The centre if the grid is a tree – I have selected an Acer Palmatum “Katsura” – the perfect size to fit in my car, a beautiful shape and with green leaves edged with pink. I have the log, the rock, am training the ivy in a large pot to trail and also be vertical, I have hessian sacks for the pebbles, coal and the earth. Having investigated various garden centres and the internet I decided to make the sculpture to represent water – all the commercial ones seemed totally unsuitable – and have created one from the leftovers of a sculpture project I made in Saint Lô in Normandy 2 years ago with green stained branches and a glass bowl which fits perfectly. The final sculpture to be made with feathers is in progress. Julia has chickens and has given me some of feathers but four chickens cannot shed enough at this time of the year. I have therefore approached a poultry far near where I live and am waiting for a few bags of a variety of birds feathers and then the final sculpture will be complete.
We are meeting with a sound engineer next week to discuss how this can work when the musicians are not there, and we are also researching suitable venues for a public performance and installation. “Sound Scape“ is definitely on the way now.