Making Visuals Sound (residency)
MAKING VISUALS SOUND, 2012
Pencil, Ink, Pastels, and Watercolour on Paper.
In collaboration with Dr. Franziska Schroeder, Michael Speers, and Andrew Harrison.
Artist residency, gallery show, and concert series in the Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast, N.I.
This residency included the following works: Veg, Skyline/Rooftops, Lichen, Harbour Reflecting on City Centre, and Palm House.
A graphic score in which assorted late summer vegetables roll about on traditional notation staff lines. The placement of the vegetables indicates pitch area (more than one pitch should be played for each vegetable) and the shape of the vegetable should inspire directionality in the event. The size of the vegetable event indicates its importance in performance, whether that is by volume, texture, or length. This piece’s duration is either 3’51”, in honour of the largest tomato in history (3.51kg), or 1’5”, for the longest bean pod (1.5m).
Veg was popular among the young visitors to the gallery and concert. It was performed three times over the course of two days of open concerts. The musicians -- Franziska Schroeder, Michael Speers, and Andy Harrison -- indicated that they found the score to be one of the more intuitive and enjoyable to play, out of the scores I prepared through this residency. They emphasised the clear size relationships and directional indications of the vegetables as an important element in the score's visual code.
This 1.5 metre score, in pastels on black paper, was inspired by journeys on the cross-border train Belfast - Dublin and the train Washington D.C. - New York City. The contours of the three skylines provide the shape of the melody for the three voices, while the colours may indicate changes in sound texture. The time axis provides orientation and is keyed to a sound track of a commuter train clacking at 40 beats per minute.
This score was performed by Michael Speers (percussion) and Andy Harrison (guitar) as part of an open/walk-in concert in the gallery space on June 3, 2012. After trying it in rehearsal with a metronomic rail noise track, the musicians decided to perform without the track underneath, instead opting to incorporate the rhythmic noise and underlying beat into their interpretation.
Inspired by the colours and patterns of lichen on trees in the park, this score indicates flowing tonal washes. Each colour indicates a specific tone, cluster, or chords: my suggestions were C major, G flat minor, D flat minor, or E major chords, but musicians are free to choose their own. If using a polyphonic instrument and choosing chords, all of the notes in the chord may be used singly, but should preferably be grouped in chord clusters. Sound should be soft throughout, with very little rhythmic accents. Duration indeterminate, but no longer than five minutes.
On the second day of open concerts and workshops, Franziska Schroeder (saxophone) joined Michael Speers (percussion) and Andy Harrison (guitar) in a concert for young visitors to The MAC. The musicians talked about the scores with the audience, and kept their performances short. In addition to the performances of my scores, like Lichen and Veg, the children were invited to create graphic scores in a short workshop and contribute them for interpretation during the open concert. Lichen was paired with a few children's scores from the workshop that featured themes from nature.
HARBOUR REFLECTING ON CITY CENTRE
This score was inspired by several boat trips on Belfast Harbour, where one sees the northern sunlight twinkle icy blue in the windows of the City Centre towers. The piece should build up slowly for approximately 5’00”, with all three instruments beginning at the base of their individually chosen column. Where possible, sounds should be slow and sustained, with few pronounced breaths or phrasing. Performers should respond to fluctuations in colour and column shape. Colour changes should be keyed to event changes and column shape to sound volume/envelope/timbral technique. A nearly imperceptible pulse drives the sonic columns upward, which is manifested in the fluctuating column shapes.
In this video, the score is performed by two musicians, Michael Speers and Andy Harrison, rather than the three indicated in the notation. The musicians progressed quickly upward through the notation and chose to "leap" back to the base of the score and read through it again with different timbres in mind the second time. The change is audible exactly halfway through the performance recording.
A series of numbers indicating pitches of a 12-tone series are superimposed on a watercolour of the Palm House in the Belfast Botanic Gardens. The performer should choose a continuous 12-tone series, starting from any tone. Beginning at the top centre of the dome, the performer moves up and down the edifice, choosing a new column at the base each time. In this manner, the piece will be different if the performer goes right or left from the centre, and depending upon which beginnings/endings they choose. The rhythm is free, although it should be moderately fast and all silences (indicated by numbers greater than 12) should be observed. The piece may be performed alongside sounds recorded in the Botanic Gardens, from the Belfast Soundmap.