dot drip line line

Text score for a performed piece of any duration for any number of performers.

This piece is currently in development. At present, the intention is:

The score for this piece contains a simple text which each performer should use to create an entire notebook of variants which will serve as a handbook of ideas from which to develop a live performance version of the initial score. The notebooks should be displayed (open at a single spread) where the audience can see them at the performance. The variants may be drawn (using wet and/or dry media), collaged, described, included as video or audio of a performance interpretation (performers may want to consider the use of QR codes to include these digitally recorded versions in their books), or any other form or media that comes to mind.

The final performance may take any form the performer chooses. Performances that are created as scores become separate but related works, which can be performed in future by performers who have not undertaken the notebook process.

Current scores developed from dot drip line line are:

Sepiascape with Grey

Sepiascape with Grey is a graphic score commissioned by Valentina Pravodelov for her MMus vocal recital in January 2014. Destined to be performed in the context of a programme of darkly urban popular music by bands such as Massive Attack, Portishead and Joy Division with a backing band of guitars, keyboards, backing vocals and drums, it incorporates a short text which mashes up a single line from T.S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland with words selected by the composer:

under the brown fog of a winter dawn
unreal city

The score was created using sepia acrylic ink (using a dip pen with copperplate nib, and as a wash) and black watercolour overlaid with digitally created handwritten text.

It is dedicated to Valentina Pravodelov.

Parlour Game

Parlour Game is a conceptual, improvisatory Christmas piece for three or more singing performers (either acting singers or singing actors) with a sense of adventure and a taste for silliness. It is based on the children’s game Chinese Whispers, in which text is whispered from player to player, becoming corrupted and less and less intelligible as it moves through the group.

The ‘score’ of Parlour Game consists of a page of instructions and 8 slips of paper which contain four graphic suggestions for melodies and four suggestions of ways of speaking. This is the foundation of the piece. The first performance was augmented by readings from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and the provision of ‘rumours’ to the audience in handmade paper fortune cookies (made with Christmas origami paper!). The rumours were all lines taken from A Christmas Carol, but could be anything that fits the occasion, and of course, audience members can always make up their own rumours.

The piece can run for any duration, although less than about 7 minutes would probably not be effective. The first performance ran for 12 minutes.

Parlour Game: First performance

Parlour Game: First performance

Parlour Game: First performance

Four Black and White Pieces

Four Black and White Pieces is a set of four graphic scores ‘for any number of performers or imaginations’. Created for the Closet Music ‘Travel Pack’ project, which was looking for postcard-sized pieces which could be used by travellers to imagine their own music, even if they didn’t read musical notation, Four Black and White Pieces is also appropriate for (audible) performance. The four pieces can be performed in any orientation, either sequentially (in any order) or simultaneously. If there is more than one performer, they can either all work from one Piece, from different Pieces, or from the same Piece in differing orientations.

As with my other graphic score works, the interpretation of the images is entirely up to the performer(s) – my interest in this form of notation is in enabling performance, and in seeing what performers bring to the work. I don’t specify certain elements to represent certain musical concepts because, in my control-freak way, I feel that if I want a melody that is ‘this’ shape, I should just write out the notes myself. I love hearing performers create sounds I wouldn’t ever have imagined with these pieces – every performance becomes a composition lesson.

Four Black & White Pieces
Four Black & White Pieces on display at the Closet Music exhibition.
Click to view full-size image

Carrion Comfort (graphic score)

The graphic score version of Carrion Comfort was created as part of the process of writing the orchestral work of the same name. It is a painting in gouache which I painted as an intensity map of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem Carrion Comfort to help me work out the structure of the orchestral work. Having shown it to Stuart Russell on Twitter, he suggested that it could be interpreted as a standalone graphic score – and proceeded to create an electro-acoustic piece, called C.C. – After Caitlin Rowley, to prove it. Since then the piece has also been performed by Yorkshire new music band Midnight Llama.

Read about the creation of the Carrion Comfort graphic score: Work in progress: Carrion Comfort 4 – Going back to the source & ending up in unexpected places