an opera of the self

Abstract

The techniques which I developed for my work between 2009-12 are a consequence of my own unique mix of synaesthetic sensibilities. I have sought to investigate these innate impulses in order to formulate a deeper understanding of my compositional process and define technical strategies that I have termed generative transcriptions.

In this thesis I focus on Canto Morph, ‘an opera of the self’, a project in multiple parts exploring processes of embodiment, association and dissociation. It is realised through the media of recorded improvisation, a 45-minute scored composition, a virtual architecture, a media installation, a video installation and a sculptural libretto.

This project as ‘an opera of the self’ is located in an experiential process comprising several stages:

1/ I perform a series of improvisations in a trance-like state using various instruments and my own voice to create multi-layered recordings – trance improvisation mix.

2/ These recordings are subjected to analytical transcription which I understand as a process of reverse engineering akin to the process that architects employ whereby complex 3-dimensional structures of buildings are analysed and explored diagrammatically in order to discover what kind of essence might be contained in the blueprint of its built form. I cite Xenakis’ Philips Pavilion and the dual nature of composition/architecture that is embodied within this design. This process inspires my own methodology, where mimetic-scripts are created from the trance improvised mix and then refined and further manipulated into a score that can be performed.

3/ The improvisation-analysis-composition process which can broadly be conceived as an ‘embodiment of self’ is subjected to another stage in which I create a new body – a re-embodiment in which to site the work architecturally.

In exploring the multi-modal approach that is represented by the Canto Morph, I have underpinned a novel and multi-facetted way to approach a compositional practice, where through synaesthetic empowerment, a myriad of forces enable an emergent compositional method of generative transcriptions.