(Per)Forming Art 2015

(Per)Forming Art Symposium 2015 was funded by the Royal Musical Association. The event took place on Sunday 20th September, 2015 at the University of Leeds, England, and welcomed delegates from Belgium, Denmark, England, Italy, the Netherlands, Scotland, and Thailand.


Programme 2015


Registration: 09:30-10:00 (tea/coffee/biscuits served in the foyer)

Session 1: 10:00 – 11:20 (CCCH); Chair: Connor Stanford

  • 10:00 – 10:40: Marina Liontou Mochament (Leiden University, Orpheus Institute), ‘Enhancing inspiration: Metric modal improvisation as a tool for composition in contemporary modal music’
  • 10:40 – 11:20: Dr James Wyness, ‘performing sound-as-sound – an investigation of complexity’

Break: 11:20 – 12:00 (tea/coffee/biscuits served in the foyer)

Session 2: 12:00 – 13:20 (CCCH); Chair: Magdalena Halay

  • 12:00 – 12:40: Jacopo Gianninoto (Assumption University of Thailand), ‘Renaissance Redux // Recercare Performing Project’
  • 12:40 – 13:20: Adilia Yip (Royal Conservatoire Antwerp), ‘Inventing new compositional process via oral transmission practice’

Lunch (and an opportunity to browse the academic posters on display!): 13:20 – 14:40

Session 3: 14:40 – 15:40 (CCCH); Chair: Harley Johnson

  • 14:40 – 15:20: Dr Maria Kallionpää (University of Oxford), Dipl.-Psy. Mag. Hans-Peter Gasselseder (University of Aalborg), ‘Beyond the Piano: the Super Instrument. Widening the Instrumental Capacities in the Context of the Piano Music of the 21st Century’
  • 15:20 – 16:00: Paul Wolinski (University of Huddersfield), ‘If in Doubt, Make It Loud: Exploring the Composer/Audience Relationship in Live Computer-Based Music Performance’

Break: 16:00 – 16:55 (tea/coffee/biscuits served in the foyer)

16:55: pre-concert talk about the RMA by Katy Hamilton (Royal Musical Association) in CCCH

Concert (as part of the (Per)Forming Art Concert Series): 17:00 – 18:30 (CCCH)

This concert will comprise music composed and/or performed by selected candidates. The proposed programme structure is as follows:

  • 17:00-17:10: Paul Wolinski
  • 17:10-17:20: Dr James Wyness, abdecedarian menuiseries
  • 17:20-17:30:  Dr Maria Kallionpää, Trinity Mania (2010)

17:30-17:50: interval (tea/coffee/biscuits served in the foyer)

  • 17:50-18:00: Adilia Yip, Inner Sight Etudes (2015)
  • 18:00-18:10: Jacopo Gianninoto, ‘Renaissance Redux // Recercare’ Performing Project
  • 18:10-18:20: Marina Liontou Mochament

The (Per)Forming Art Symposium and evening concert will take place in the School of Music, University of Leeds on the 20th September, 2015.


Abstracts 2015


Jacopo Gianninoto (Assumption University of Thailand), ‘Renaissance Redux // Recercare Performing Project

“Cercare” in Italian is the verb “to search” so “Ricercare” or “Recercare” could be interpreted as “to search again”.

Starting from a background in Lute studies and the usual “historical performance practice” combined with an interest for improvisation and composition the project brings the Renaissance spirit and compositional approach, with regard to the improvisational practices being the fundament for the written music left into the various manuscripts available nowadays, into a contemporary context.

The performer engage in the extemporary creation of pieces in the Renaissance style by improvising on the typical musical forms of the period being dance forms from the different European traditions such as Canario, Passacaglia, Gaitas, Jota, Gigue and so on or counterpoint based forms such as the “fantasie” and “ricercare”.

The result is what the author believe being the real “historical performance practice” given the fact that according to the available sources there is plenty of evidence that composers of instrumental music back then would mostly rely on improvisation and even if they did published some books of tablature they would rarely play such music by following the score as strict as we might do today in the so called “classical music” world.

Instrumental music in the Renaissance was mostly improvised and very often the published scores, written with the tablature system, would be prepared not my the author himself but by other people, bring his students or admirers, in the spirit of preserving the work of those great masters for the future.

Hence to play strictly from the score is a debatable approach if the objective is that of achieving an authentic performance of that period music.

Renaissance Redux is a music performance based on Renaissance music forms newly improvised with an original instrument (Renaissance Guitar) and what is considered to be – according to the musicological studies – to be the original technique.


Dr Maria Kallionpää (University of Oxford), Dipl.-Psy. Mag. Hans-Peter Gasselseder (University of Aalborg), ‘Beyond the Piano: the Super Instrument. Widening the Instrumental Capacities in the Context of the Piano Music of the 21st Century’

Thanks to the development of new technology, musical instruments are no more tied to their existing acoustic or technical limitations as almost all parameters can be augmented or modified in real time. An increasing number of composers, performers, and computer programmers have thus become interested in different ways of “supersizing” acoustic instruments in order to open up previously – unheard instrumental sounds. This leads us to the question of what constitutes a super instrument and what challenges does it pose aesthetically and technically? Our presentation explores the effects that super instruments have on the identity of a given solo instrument, on the identity of a composition and on the experience of performing this kind of repertoire. The super instrument comes to be defined as a bundle of more than one instrumental lines that achieve a coherent overall identity when generated in real time. On the basis of our own personal experience of performing the works discussed, super instruments vary a great deal but each has a transformative effect on the identity and performance practice of the pianist. This discussion approaches the topic from the viewpoint of contemporary keyboard music, showcasing examples of super instrument compositions of the 21st century. Thus, the main purpose of this practise based paper and lecture concert is to explore the essence and role of piano or toy piano in a super instrument constellation, as well as the performer´s role as a “super instrumentalist”. We consider these issues in relation to case studies drawn from our own compositional work and a selection of works composed by Karlheinz Essl.


Marina Liontou Mochament (Leiden University, Orpheus Institute), ‘Enhancing inspiration: Metric modal improvisation as a tool for composition in contemporary modal music

This lecture-recital will present my work-in-progress on the subject of metric modal improvisation and modal composition.

Considering improvisation and composition as two sides of the same coin, I am currently focusing on the creative influence of metric improvisation practice on compositional practice. Through researching, analysing and decoding of improvisational practices in the field of modal improvisation in the wider area of the Mediterranean, I am configuring ways, tools and techniques that can provide material to ‘enhance inspiration’ in compositional practice.

The proposed lecture – performance will demonstrate the above process. Starting with the performance of what now is one of my finished works, I will ‘de-compose it’, showing the step-by-step process and the influence of the improvisation practice that led me to the work, depicting through the medium of performance the symbiotic relationship and the iterative process that inextricably connect improvisation and composition practices. Finally, I aim this way to raise a fruitful discussion on the role and the influence of improvisation on composition practice in contemporary modal music.


Paul Wolinski (University of Huddersfield), ‘If in Doubt, Make It Loud: Exploring the Composer/Audience Relationship in Live Computer-Based Music Performance’

The live performance of computer-based music has inherent complications relative to more traditional modes of music performance. Unlike the explicit human gestures of a punk band thrashing at their guitars or the bow of a solo violinist rising and falling as it creates a melody, the computer musician does not always have the means to so tangibly tie sounds they are making to physical action. In the privacy of the studio, this abstraction of sound from gesture is no kind of limitation, but live, electronic music at all scales is still often represented in the form of a performer crouched behind a laptop whilst all manner of detached noise erupts around them. The study of contemporary popular music composition and performance has produced much on processes available to composers and ways of making performances of electronic music ‘more live’; what has been less discussed is ways of composing that better harness the potential of a live show beyond considering the direct actions of the performer. For example, how is the phenomenological experience of an audience altered by a performer making ‘really live’ music on a laptop rather than simply pressing play on iTunes if the audience’s view is the same in both instances?

In this lecture-recital, I focus primarily on possible approaches to remedy the lack of visible expression in electronic music performance. Part of this is an autoethnographica examination of the time I have spent in the band 65daysofstatic, an instrumental electronic/noise/guitar group which began with the conviction that no matter how exciting electronic music might be, in terms of ‘the live show’, no electronic artist we had ever seen was ever as exciting as a band of people behind guitars and a drum kit. I also draw on ideas from Don Ihde, Marian Dura, Denis Smalley, Nicola Dibben amongst others to discuss the phenomenology of a live show from the point of view of the audience, and how that influences composition and performance.

Nobody can choose exactly how the audience will interpret their music, but by considering the phenomenological aspects of how it is presented in a live environment, you can try and guide them in the desired direction. Lights, visuals, volume and the action (or lack of) on stage all play a role in the audience’s subjective experience. I perform songs from my current live show (http://tinyurl.com/paulw-live, built as part of my PhD research) to demonstrate an attempt of the practical application of these phenomenological ideas by developing synchronised visualisation alongside compositions, discuss how 65daysofstatic approach this in a different way, and suggest that the sinister forces of lowest common denominator Electronic Dance Music are way ahead of us all in learning how to bludgeon audiences with full-spectrum, military-grade phenomenological manipulation.


Dr James Wyness, ‘performing sound-as-sound – an investigation of complexity’

Referring specifically to electroacoustic performance-as-composition, music is defined as an investigation of the complexity of sound-as-sound rather than sound-as-sign, a personal definition based on research into semiology, anthropology, the origins of language development, social and cultural theory, morphology, determinism/randomness and evolutionary biology. Complexity refers to the shape of sounds – morphogenesis and morphology – and to how sounds combine and coalesce. More generally the author agrees with Xenakis in considering music as acoustical energy. The problem of composition, and indeed performance, lies in how best to use that energy. Developing the idea that meaningful composition can result from the careful preparation of a performance’s constituent parts, performance is considered as a set of techniques and processes for composing music. A practice-based research which guides the eventual composition is implicit throughout both preparatory processes and performance. The lecture-recital is supported by slides and excerpts from a new work for 4-channel sound, Unmasking Cryptic Variation. The underlying research question is this – is the proposed performance-as-composition process (compared to a studio process resulting in a fixed medium outcome) as effective in creating exciting, innovative and ambitious new music, of sufficient complexity to engage a listener, yet accessible to the kind of audience prepared to bring something of its own to the table? The workflow begins with the generation and gathering of material (itself a performative procedure, recursively embedded into the larger form) typically from one source or similar sources undergoing related physical processes. This material, recorded, is shaped, again performatively, to create multiple layers of homogeneous sound. These composed layers, by means of submixing, are ‘packed’ into single channels, separated and balanced, creating ‘blocks’ of up to sixteen channels of dense elements to be further articulated through performance in the studio from laptop and mixing desk, then distributed to loudspeakers. In concert conditions the performance will work from sixteen software channels to eight at the desk to four loudspeakers.

The performance constitutes the composition by virtue of energy invested into the complexity of the ‘back-story’. What remains is the articulation of homogeneous elements in Euclidian space – a composition is in one sense fixed with respect to the elements but flexible in its articulation and distribution throughout the performance space, as defined by the positioning of the loudspeakers. Any subsequent fixed medium composition is a separate though related enterprise.

This personal methodology, as practice-based research, could be described as qualitative, offering a way of perceiving things, rather than quantitative, producing physical objects or specific actions. It is intended to be of interest, alongside the unorthodox research base, within the more general context of musical composition, offered as an example of building a niche and staying consistent from beginning to end. As an investigation of complexity the resulting music shouldn’t be understood as necessarily complicated. Aesthetic simplicity can derive, when valid and profound, from inner complexity.


Adilia Yip (Royal Conservatoire Antwerp) ‘Inventing new compositional process via oral transmission practice’

In this project, compositional process is inspired by the oral tradition observed in the African balafon music, which gives insights to both composer and performer to enrich their compositional and performing techniques. The new composition, Inner Sight Etudes(2015)is an experiment and a duo game between the composer and the performer, anew compositional process that follows a pragmatic approach in four steps:

  1. observe the means of communicating music—score reading in Western classical music and oral tradition in African balafon music;
  2. compare the music practice of score reading and oral tradition of communicating music between musicians;
  3. test sessions for new means of communicating music ideas, excluding the visual perception—the “decoding” between composer and performer; and
  4. build a performance that reflects the cognitive experience of the above creative processes

Out of different perspectives of performance experience, we specifically look into the dilemma of the use of notation score as the medium of communication between composer and performer. In classical music, the score is the preferred medium between composer and performer, as score reading has brought ease in communicating and recording music, and for instance, the ability of sight-reading. The cognitive process of score reading is highly depending on visual perception, which neglects the representation and communication of sound and sound-producing movement. What is music and where does it reside? Is it embedded in the score, in our visual representation or in the notation software? Auditory and tactile perception are the fundamental senses in music performance, but paradoxically barged by our overly reliance to score reading. As such, both composer and performer in this project would like to work together to search for other medium of communication in music, rather than score reading.

Inner Sight Etudes is a sensory performance consists of eleven pieces for marimba solo and duo, a reflection of the cognitive experience of the performer learning balafon music orally during her field study in West Africa. The performer follows only the verbal and sonic instructions of the composer, without using conventional music notation score. Communication between composer and performer is made viable through the following “decoding” methods (non-visual “scores”):

  • Tactile medium
  • Recalling the memory of various moments and emotions of life events
  • Movement pattern
  • Aural reaction game
  • Literature texts
  • Midi sound files

Some stylistic qualities of the balafon music are also adapted in Inner Sight Etudes, i.e. pentatonic scale and polyrhythm; and the use of special settings, i.e. blindfolded, hand gloves, harmonic effects and theatrical lighting effects. These parameters can expand the compositional possibilities on marimba, and add extra theatrical and sonic experience to the audience to witness the compositional process.

The new compositional process contributes to the artistic practice of both composer and performer. By leaving the conventional classical practice of score reading, the musicians explore new means of communicating music that shed light on the compositional process; and likewise, the new process brings insights to deepen the performance technique – improvements in aural ability and internalization of music.


Concert 2015


The (Per)Forming Art Concert took place in the Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall at 5pm

Programme

Paul Wolinski

James Wyness, abdecedarian menuiseries

Maria Kallionpää, Trinity Mania (2010)


Interval (tea/coffee/biscuits served in the foyer)


Adilia Yip, Inner Sight Etudes (2015)

Jacopo Gianninoto, ‘Renaissance Redux // Recercare’ Performing Project

Marina Liontou Mochament

Concert Programme Notes

Paul Wolinski

One part of my research has led me to begin an ongoing project that is exploring game-engines as a means to compose with (and through) physics and virtual space. My initial step for this was to create reactive 3D environments based on material from my 2014 album Full Bleed to explore the ways in which sounds can be connected to space. Although not primarily designed as a performance tool, the visuals also lend themselves to being a way to deal with the eternal problem of playing laptop-based music ‘live’. My evening performance will highlight some of this ongoing work.


James Wyness, abdecedarian menuiseries

audio: hand-made bowed psaltery, electronic bows, spring steel rods, tempered steel bandsaw blade, steel tubes, iron nails, ferrite rods, metal files, stones, coal, stone floors, concrete, vibrating devices, arabic duffs, fm radio, fans, ducts,

basal and abdecedarian  menuiseries drawing on minds of gizan provenance and, yes, ancestry

flatus of muscat oils but not yet dragged, beaten, abused nor penned in cages of the late 20th century’s new ages

flint-knapping cuneate and trichotomous, yet planate along one axis, inspirited by powers of ulfberht or katana, more locally peddled along the cheviot range, haggled over in hen gymraeg

seen to fruition by a proclivity as old as the taung child, kbs tuff or sibling encased in koobi fora ash, stylistically a self-imposed suffering as if under the siege of harfleur, studied with the patience of a koyukon bear-hunter.

un nouveau vernaculaire

to understand the generators of formal properties look on the façade of the musée d’orsay from a vedette for the demon of one of these. Then all resemblance to linearity broken in favour of robbe-grillet’s bicycle wheel on the voyeur’s island or flaubert’s helicoid as emma b, tasting of encre noir, prepares to fit her (undoubtedly) lily-white sarcophagus.


Maria Kallionpää, Trinity Mania (2010)

The main idea of Trinity Mania is to combine three different instruments (piano, toy piano and electronics) into one “super instrument”. Instead of forming separate identities, each instrument is supposed to complete the others. The presence of only one performer underlines this approach: the pianist is in charge of all the instrumental lines simultaneously. The composing process of this work started during my residency period in Benin, West Africa, where I got inspired by the rhythmic structures of African music. I was particularly interested in using complex and controlled polyrhythmic patterns and at the same time maintaining improvisational freedom. Although not directly based on African music, Trinity Mania is an abstract and subtle study of these characteristics.


Adilia Yip, Inner Sight Etudes (2015)

Inner Sight Etudes (2015) is a sensory performance consists of eleven pieces for marimba solo, a reflection of the cognitive experience of the performer learning balafon music orally during her field study in West Africa. The performer follows only the verbal and sonic instructions of the composer, without using the conventional music notation score. The communication between composer and performer is made viable through the following “decoding” methods (non-visual “scores”):

  • Tactile medium
  • Recalling the memory of various moments and emotions of life events
  • Movement patterns
  • Aural reaction game
  • Literature texts
  • Midi sound files

Some stylistic qualities of the balafon music are also adapted in Inner Sight Etudes, i.e. polyrhythm, and the use of special settings, i.e. blindfolded, hand gloves, harmonic effects and theatrical lighting effects. These parameters can expand the compositional possibilities on marimba, and add extra theatrical and sonic experience to the audience to witness the compositional process.


Jacopo Gianninoto, ‘Renaissance Redux // Recercare’ Performing Project

Starting from a background in Lute studies and the usual “historical performance practice” combined with an interest for improvisation and composition the project brings the Renaissance spirit and compositional approach, with regard to the improvisational practices being the fundament for the written music left into the various manuscripts available nowadays, into a contemporary context.

The performer engage in the extemporary creation of pieces in the Renaissance style by improvising on the typical musical forms of the period being dance forms from the different European traditions such as Canario, Passacaglia, Gaitas, Jota, Gigue and so on or counterpoint based forms such as the “fantasie” and “ricercare”.


Marina Liontou Mochament

Inside the circle

How does it feel to be inside the circle?

Moving and at the same time still.

A three-part composition for ud

  1. Storm
  2. Proditio
  3. Vertigo