New Extended deadline for EMC2 conference

NOTICE: DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS EXTENDED TO 20 JANUARY 2017

CALL FOR PAPERS: EMC2 – Remembering the Experimental Music Catalogue

De Montfort University 24-26th March 2017

The Experimental Music Catalogue (EMC) is a unique publication project, founded by the composer Christopher Hobbs in 1968 and shortly thereafter joined by Gavin Bryars and Michael Nyman, to disseminate experimental music (which used indeterminate, Cagean processes, often presented in text or graphic notation) and minimalism. Many of these works were “for all”, requiring performers to be interested and diligent, but not requiring an ability to read common-practice music notation. From its founding until it was closed in the early 1980s, the EMC released works by important international experimental and minimalist composers (including Cornelius Cardew, Terry Jennings, Howard Skempton, Jon Gibson, Christian Wolff, and the open-ended London experimental group the Scratch Orchestra) as individual scores and thematic anthologies (such as the Verbal Anthology, Rhythmic Anthology, Scratch Anthology of Compositions). As a publisher, the EMC was unusual in that all composers kept copyright of their work, and as part of a larger wave in independent published collections (in the US, Soundings and SOURCE magazines, Dick Higgins’ “something else press”; in the UK, Contact magazine), the EMC imprint appears in library holdings throughout the UK, Europe, the Americas and Asia. Although Bryars operated the EMC from his London home, many of the EMC composers and associated performers worked at Leicester Polytechnic, where Bryars was head of music. Leicester Polytechnic became a crucible for new works and classic performances of old works, thus ensuring the East Midlands’ central place in the development of new music in Britain. Christopher Hobbs and Virginia Anderson revived the Experimental Music Catalogue in 1999 as a web-based not-for-profit resource, bringing out classic anthologies, new scores, and more recently, CDs and downloads. The modern EMC is based in Leicester.

In conjunction with De Montfort University, the University of Leicester and Contemporary Music for All (CoMA) East Midlands, we invite paper proposals on the topic of the Experimental Music Catalogue as part of the Arts Council funded festival of practice and analysis, EMC2. Composers within the East Midlands played a huge role in shaping experimental music tropes and strategies of the 1960s and ‘70s both in the UK and beyond. As part of CoMA East Midlands’ 20th anniversary celebrations we are hosting a festival of practice, reflection and research centred upon the Catalogue and its impact. Conference attendees can attend in one of two modes: as conference participants only (talks, plenaries (for both speakers and players) and concert attendance represent an enjoyable package of events) or as speakers and players, participating in the all-comers’ rehearsal events on Saturday and the concert on Sunday afternoon.

The conference will begin on Friday at 12.30pm with registration and first panels at 1.45pm (the all-comers’ taking part all weekend begin rehearsals at 2pm). Concert number one (curated by DMU staff and students) will take place that evening. On Saturday, speakers’ panels are in the morning followed by a plenary with people associated with the EMC (including Christopher Hobbs, Virginia Anderson, Dave Smith and Hugh Shrapnel) and a piano repertoire concert. Speakers’ panels continue in the afternoon followed by an evening concert curated by Christopher Hobbs. If you decide to play with the all-comers’ (this will need to be booked in advance with your conference booking) we will be working on Gavin Bryars’ 1, 2, 1-2-3-4 (1975) and new commissions from the EMC composers.  On Sunday, the final speakers’ panels will take place in the morning with rehearsals in parallel and the day concluding after lunch with the final last presenting the new commissions and Bryars’ work. The day will conclude by 4pm.

What we are aiming for is a fun and enlightening integration of activities for all. We also aim to have a publication outlet for academics participating and more information about this will follow in advance of the conference.

Consequently, we invite proposals both broadly on the EMC and its impact but also on specific areas including:

Underground music publication and experimental music
The influence of EMC publications on subsequent composers
The role that indeterminate compositions played in opening music performance to all (to musicians of abilities, all artistic backgrounds, and relevant gender and class balance)
The Scratch Orchestra
The intersection between experimental and minimal music
Performance parameters
How indeterminate (text) scores are used today
Proposals should be sent in Word or rtf (NOT PDF) format, 250 words long, plus 100 words bio (affiliation, recent work etc…) and ensure your contact details are on the document. Please also indicate if you would wish to play an instrument, what that instrument is and how you would rate your abilities (e.g. Grade or years of experience). If you wish to play, please indicate if you have a preference for the day on which you deliver your paper (i.e. Friday or Sunday). The deadline is January 16th 2017. Proposers will hear back in late January. Send your proposal to Virginia Anderson at emcsystems@me.comand Anna Claydon at coma.east.midlands@gmail.com

The conference fees (payable electronically or by cheque via the booking form available from coma.east.midlands@gmail.com) are:

Conference only (includes conference pack, conference plenary and concert tickets)

Salaried CoMA Member £45
Salaried Non-CoMA Member £50
Student, Non-salaried CoMA Member £25
Student, Non-salaried Non-CoMA Member £30

Partial Conference and Partial Playing (i.e. playing on Saturday, conferencing Friday and Sunday there are extra costs associated with this)

Salaried CoMA Member £55
Salaried Non-CoMA Member £60
Student, Non-salaried CoMA Member £35
Student, Non-salaried Non-CoMA Member £40

Call for Papers and Participation: EMC2 Festival and Conference

CALL FOR PAPERS: EMC² – Remembering the Experimental Music Catalogue

De Montfort University 24-26th March 2017

The Experimental Music Catalogue (EMC) is a unique publication project, founded by the composer Christopher Hobbs in 1968 and shortly thereafter joined by Gavin Bryars and Michael Nyman, to disseminate experimental music (which used indeterminate, Cagean processes, often presented in text or graphic notation) and minimalism. Many of these works were “for all”, requiring performers to be interested and diligent, but not requiring an ability to read common-practice music notation. From its founding until it was closed in the early 1980s, the EMC released works by important international experimental and minimalist composers (including Cornelius Cardew, Terry Jennings, Howard Skempton, Jon Gibson, Christian Wolff, and the open-ended London experimental group the Scratch Orchestra) as individual scores and thematic anthologies (such as the Verbal Anthology, Rhythmic Anthology, Scratch Anthology of Compositions). As a publisher, the EMC was unusual in that all composers kept copyright of their work, and as part of a larger wave in independent published collections (in the US, Soundings and SOURCE magazines, Dick Higgins’ “something else press”; in the UK, Contact magazine), the EMC imprint appears in library holdings throughout the UK, Europe, the Americas and Asia. Although Bryars operated the EMC from his London home, many of the EMC composers and associated performers worked at Leicester Polytechnic, where Bryars was head of music. Leicester Polytechnic became a crucible for new works and classic performances of old works, thus ensuring the East Midlands’ central place in the development of new music in Britain. Christopher Hobbs and Virginia Anderson revived the Experimental Music Catalogue in 1999 as a web-based not-for-profit resource, bringing out classic anthologies, new scores, and more recently, CDs and downloads. The modern EMC is based in Leicester.

In conjunction with De Montfort University, the University of Leicester and Contemporary Music for All (CoMA) East Midlands, we invite paper proposals on the topic of the Experimental Music Catalogue as part of the Arts Council funded festival of practice and analysis, EMC2. Composers within the East Midlands played a huge role in shaping experimental music tropes and strategies of the 1960s and ‘70s both in the UK and beyond. As part of CoMA East Midlands’ 20th anniversary celebrations we are hosting a festival of practice, reflection and research centred upon the Catalogue and its impact. Conference attendees can attend in one of two modes: as conference participants only (talks, plenaries (for both speakers and players) and concert attendance represent an enjoyable package of events) or as speakers and players, participating in the all-comers’ rehearsal events on Saturday and the concert on Sunday afternoon.

The conference will begin on Friday at 12.30pm with registration and first panels at 1.45pm (the all-comers’ taking part all weekend begin rehearsals at 2pm). Concert number one (curated by DMU staff and students) will take place that evening. On Saturday, speakers’ panels are in the morning followed by a plenary with people associated with the EMC (including Christopher Hobbs, Virginia Anderson, Dave Smith and Hugh Shrapnel) and a piano repertoire concert. Speakers’ panels continue in the afternoon followed by an evening concert curated by Christopher Hobbs. If you decide to play with the all-comers’ (this will need to be booked in advance with your conference booking) we will be working on Gavin Bryars’ 1, 2, 1-2-3-4 (1975) and new commissions from the EMC composers.  On Sunday, the final speakers’ panels will take place in the morning with rehearsals in parallel and the day concluding after lunch with the final last presenting the new commissions and Bryars’ work. The day will conclude by 4pm.

What we are aiming for is a fun and enlightening integration of activities for all. We also aim to have a publication outlet for academics participating and more information about this will follow in advance of the conference.

Consequently, we invite proposals both broadly on the EMC and its impact but also on specific areas including:

  • Underground music publication and experimental music
  • The influence of EMC publications on subsequent composers
  • The role that indeterminate compositions played in opening music performance to all (to musicians of abilities, all artistic backgrounds, and relevant gender and class balance)
  • The Scratch Orchestra
  • The intersection between experimental and minimal music
  • Performance parameters
  • How indeterminate (text) scores are used today

Proposals should be sent in Word or rtf (NOT PDF) format, 250 words long, plus 100 words bio (affiliation, recent work etc…) and ensure your contact details are on the document. Please also indicate if you would wish to play an instrument, what that instrument is and how you would rate your abilities (e.g. Grade or years of experience). If you wish to play, please indicate if you have a preference for the day on which you deliver your paper (i.e. Friday or Sunday). The deadline is January 16th 2017. Proposers will hear back in late January. Send your proposal to Virginia Anderson at emcsystems@me.com and Anna Claydon at coma.east.midlands@gmail.com

The conference fees (payable electronically or by cheque via the booking form available from coma.east.midlands@gmail.com) are:

Conference only (includes conference pack, conference plenary and concert tickets)

Salaried CoMA Member £45

Salaried Non-CoMA Member £50

Student, Non-salaried CoMA Member £25

Student, Non-salaried Non-CoMA Member £30

Partial Conference and Partial Playing (i.e. playing on Saturday, conferencing Friday and Sunday there are extra costs associated with this)

Salaried CoMA Member £55

Salaried Non-CoMA Member £60

Student, Non-salaried CoMA Member £35

Student, Non-salaried Non-CoMA Member £40

For a pdf version of this announcement, download here: CALL FOR PAPERS EMC2 Conference and Festival

South Leicestershire Improvisors Ensemble on Bandcamp

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L-R: Trevor Lines, bass; Virginia Anderson, clarinets; Chris Hobbs, piano; Rick Nance, flugelhorn; Lee Allatson, drums; Bruce Coates, saxes

The monthly meeting of the South Leicestershire Improvisors Ensemble, affectionately known as SLIE, at Quad Studios, Leicester, on 3 November 2016, was very special. Normally each session features a guest artist, but this core-group session came up with some lovely sounds. Rick Nance recorded the session using some high-quality portable recording equipment and has released it on his bandcamp page, the wonderfully titled “The Avant God”. There’s a track called From Arrival, which shows the slow movement from friends greeting each other verbally to greeting each other musically, and then three tracks, including some chamber SLIE, in which members sat out to watch others perform.

For the moment you can download SLIE from The Avant God and name your price, including nothing! But, as we say with the EMC Bandcamp page, do think about a donation above and beyond the price if you can manage it: donations will keep Rick’s webpage afloat so he can bring you these wonderfully recorded snapshots.

https://theavantgod.bandcamp.com/album/s-l-i-e

Day music in Lincoln

Jamie Crofts, 5 Diurnes: The Brayford Pool (Lincoln) by Day

Exhibition, Friends’ Meeting House, Lincoln, Sunday, 16 October 2016 (review)

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Brayford Pool, Lincoln, looking toward the island (photo credit: Jamie Crofts)

John Luther Adams, whose music has been associated with the landscape and environment of Alaska since the mid-1970s, has used the term “sonic geography” to describe “a region that lies somewhere between place and culture, between human imagination and the world around us. [in Winter Music: Composing the North (Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1004, p. 24]”. Adams’ The Place Where You Go to Listen (2008) is an installation in Fairbanks, Alaska, in which the visitor is immersed in the lights and feeling of the Northern environment, which move according to the time of day. Adams has added sound based on harmonic overtones —one, the Day Choir, and the other, the Night Choir —moving from one set of harmonics and added pulses to another with changes in light and appearance of the moon.

I was thinking about manifestations of light, activity and movement whilst viewing one of the best recent examples of sonic geography: Jamie Crofts’ project, 5 Diurnes: The Brayford Pool (Lincoln) by Day, which he launched at St Mary le Wigford, in Lincoln of 6 October 2016. I attended the second presentation of the project, at the Friends’ Meeting House, Lincoln, last Sunday, 16 October. Where composers since Field have focused on the meditative nature of night in the genre of Nocturnes (which Crofts has also done previously), and Adams seems to have balanced between day and night as one follows the other, Crofts has invented his own genre, the “diurne” in 2006. Diurnes are to day as nocturnes are to night: meditations on daytime experience. Diurnes, as Crofts explains in his notes for the piano score, are set for piano and spoken voice.

The Friends’ meeting house is a Grade II-listed building in Lincoln, itself a part of Lincoln life and history. The exhibition occurred in a secondary, Victorian, meeting room to the main 16th C. hall, and was set up with a recording of the piano part and spoken texts. The uncluttered room allowed a clear focus on the Diurnes and, perhaps, the internal pictures that the musical and verbal narrative called to the mind of the listener.

These five Diurnes focus on the Brayford Pool. This lake was used as a port by the Romans, who cut the Fosse Dyke from the River Trent at Torksey to Lincoln at the Brayford Pool, and to the River Witham, and was maintained for shipping, with improvements made in the 12th and 17th centuries. The Pool was used as an inland port as the Industrial Revolution brought manufacturing to Lincoln via the navigation canal, but as industry declined in the 20th century, the waterfront gradually moved to recreation, with one side occupied by the university, and the manufacturing giving way to number of restaurants and other entertainment businesses. The Pool is known for its resident population of swans and for an island, crowned by a weeping willow tree, which has both an obscure origin and attendant myths surrounding it.

The texts for the first, fourth and fifth Diurnes were based on a survey conducted in 2013, in which people in Lincoln were asked to complete the statement, “What I like most about the Brayford Pool is…”. Diurnes 2 and 3 were based on an article in the Lincolnshire Echo newspaper in 2010 about the Brayford Pool and its mysteries (“Is a long-forgotten secret buried beneath the island in the Brayford Pool?“, Lincolnshire Echo, 21 July 2010). Diurne 2 is distinctive in that the words (a kind of fantasy in which the protagonist wades to the island) are by Thomas Darby, while the text for the other Diurnes are written by Jim Simm (Crofts’ pseudonym). Diurne 3 poses questions arising from the newspaper article.

diurnes-poster
Programme poster for 5 Diurnes

As Crofts told us in his rather illuminating talk after the last iteration of the 5 Diurnes, his musical scheme is based harmonically on “octonic” scales, a subset of the octatonic scales favoured by Messiaen and other composers, including John White. Like White, Crofts is interested in the music of Erik Satie, and opened his talk by showing us facsimiles of Satie’s working notes, in which he would line out bars before filling them (so that each bar was equal), set a rhythm-only system for the vocal melody (Christopher Hobbs wondered whether this was a reason that Satie’s vocal music contains so few melismas), and then filled the systems below within the grid just made. He also showed the score to Morton Feldman’s For Bunita Marcus (1985). Feldman structured his score in a kind of grid of even bars (like Satie), but then filled those bars with events in different meters and lengths (for more on the construction of this piece, see Sebastian Claren’s notes to Lenio Liatso’s recording on God Records, on Chris Villiar’s always-useful cnvill.net Feldman archive).

Crofts laid out his Diurnes in a similar manner. Rhythmic and harmonic decisions for the piano part of the 5 Diurnes were made using gaming dice. This resulted in certain core rhythms and a texture consisting of dyads to six-note chords. While Diurnes 1, 3, and 5 remain solidly in a single meter, Diurnes 2 and 4 change meter (all using the lower number 16). Diurne 1 uses, or example short phrases of this material alternated with the spoken text. Diurnes 2 and 3 bring in some processing for the voices.

The installation of recorded music and voice was broadcast from one source at the Friends House, so it was directional and demanded focus on that part of the room, but it was not a traditional concert. There was, to the side, an exhibit of the materials associated with the project: programmes, scores, and a guest book, as people were encouraged to come and go as they pleased. The score and text books are exquisitely laid out and printed. The piano part is a complete work, set in common-practice notation for performance. But the text book contains not only the text for each Diurne, but also appendices containing information, instructions, and encouragement for making unique performance versions of Diurnes 1, 4, and 5. The five Diurnes thus lie as much within the spirit of experimental indeterminacy as their fixed content lies with chance and with postminimalism. The Brayford Pool (Lincoln) by Day is an excellent, and very English, work of sonic geography. Its future performances should add richness to the piece and its perception.

*****

Note: A free ebook version of the text book is available here, with more promised on his SOUNDkiosk page. And the Bandcamp page is here.

EMC squared!

On Thursday, 8 September, we attended the first rehearsal of the East Midlands branch of CoMA (Contemporary Music for All) in preparation for what is going to be an exciting event, called “EMC²”, a special celebration of the Experimental Music Catalogue and its history. This event will happen March 2017 at De Montfort University, Leicester. Details will be announced soon, but the idea is so wonderful, I thought I’d give you a sneak peak.

CoMA is a nationwide organisation devoted to promoting contemporary music performance by musicians of all abilities. The East Midlands branch is conducted by the energetic and effervescent conductor Kieran O’Riordan. Here is a quick and short taster video of the group’s first rehearsal of Christopher Hobbs’ Friesian Cow (1969), a Word Piece that appears in the EMC Verbal Anthology. Like a lot of Hobbs’ pieces at the time, the Friesian Cow uses a found text (a guide to ideal Friesian cattle — as one member of CoMA called it, “Crufts for Cows”) to generate musical events. This first play is wonderful, and we’re looking forward to future rehearsals. There will be still pictures of this rehearsal on our Facebook page. And of course we’ll let you know here as things develop.

UPDATE: EMC² will be 24th- 26th March 2017 at De Montfort University. Set your diaries now!

Smith plays Lennon/McCartney/Tilbury

Word from Dave Smith:

Dear all,
I’m playing a concert at
Schotts recital room
48 Great Marlborough Street
London W1F 7 BB

6.30 pm
Friday 9th September

John Tilbury’s 25 solo piano transcriptions of Beatles songs by Lennon + McCartney

Best wishes

Dave

Wow. Something Liszt would have transcribed had he been alive. But we have John Tilbury, and Dave Smith to play them….

Michael Parsons concert!

Michael Parsons, one of our favourite experimental composers, has written to tell us about a concert that is coming up:

I’ve been visiting Finland and working with Fiori since 2007. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to work closely with these singers and I find them very inspiring. I’ve written and arranged more than 12 pieces for them so far, including settings of early Greek lyrics from 6th & 7th centuries BC. I originally studied classics at Oxford University in the 60s before deciding to concentrate on music, and for many years I regarded myself as a ‘lapsed classicist’, until I thought I should try to revive my earlier interest in ancient Greek literature before it’s too late!
When I asked Fiori if they would be happy to sing in ancient Greek, they said “fine, as long as you tell us what it means and how to pronounce it!” So I set some lyrics of Sappho for them in 2007. They performed these in a concert in London in 2010, and since then everyone who heard them has been asking, when are they coming again? So this is their long-awaited return visit.
As well as Greek lyrics, I’ve arranged traditional songs from Macedonia, Dalmatia and Romania, and their programme also includes pieces by Finnish composers.
As special guest we’ve asked Michael Ormiston, an amazing performer who has studied overtone singing and instruments in Mongolia, and is the leading exponent of this style in UK. This concert should be a very special and memorable occasion!

Here’s the information. Michael Parsons’ concerts are always wonderful — and they’re especially wonderful when he either is working out new ideas or is exploring the music of other nations. And in this concert, he does both. Here’s the information.

Concert 14 June leaf

Happy birthday, Erik Satie!

Today, 17 May 2016, is Erik Satie’s 150th birthday. An amazing composer, far more radical than the soft-core performances of Gymnopedies would suggest. The EMC has two ways to celebrate, and of course, we’ve chosen the longest works (if it’s a party, make it a long one!):

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The first is to read Gavin Bryars, “Vexations and Its Performers,” a reprint on our Journal of Experimental Music Studies page. You can find the article here: http://www.experimentalmusic.co.uk/emc/Jems_files/Bryarssatievexations.pdf . In it Bryars relates all known performances of this piece (a short piece which can be played 840 times if one adopts the right attitude) up to the article’s publication in the early 1980s.

Then — and this is an unusual request, because we at the EMC tend to avoid advertising once an item has been announced — you might think about studying and listening to Satie’s longest through-composed piece, Le fils des étoiles, which we have both in a critical edition of the score by Christopher Hobbs, and in a CD by Chris Hobbs, who gave what is thought to be the first performance in its entirety in 1989.

Le fils des étoiles (1891), lasting over 60 minutes, is Satie’s longest work for piano (Vexations, c.1893, is longer only by dint of being played 840 times), and was originally intended to accompany a drama by Josephin Péladan, founder of the Order of the Rosy Cross, the Temple and the Grail. The three act-preludes are well known, having been published in various editions and recorded several times, but the act-music is unfamiliar even to Satie enthusiasts. This strange hieratic music, built like a mosaic out of repeating motives, some up to sixteen bars long, some only a few beats, is quite unlike any other being written at the time except by Satie himself in contemporaneous works such as Salut Drapeau!  and Trois Sonneries de la Rose+Croix.

This first-ever critical edition of the score includes the two texts which Péladan wrote describing the action of the drama (in the original French and in English translation by Andrew Hugill), together with Satie’s Dedication. The CD includes a programme-note by the distinguished Satie scholar Robert Orledge.

To get either, or both, the score and CD, see our Le fils de étoiles page: http://www.experimentalmusic.co.uk/emc/EMC_103.html . Or contact us here — and have a little drink to Satie!

Slie in March

Last night’s South Leicestershire Improvisors Ensemble monthly residency at Quad Studios, Leicester, featured special guest, the innovative percussionist Walt Shaw. Virginia Anderson laid out for part of a set to snap this candid film before returning to her bass clarinet. Lee Allatson, the drummer on the left of the picture, made some more formal films, which we shall share as soon as possible. Completing hte line-up is Bruce Coates, on sax, Chris Hobbs, piano, and some guy walking through the stage area for no apparent reason (actually, there is a reason: there’s an entrance behind the curtain).

South Leicestershire’s finest

There will be another meeting of Slie, the South Leicestershire Improvisors Orchestra) onn Thursday night, 4 February, at Quad Studios, Downtown Leicester, 78  Friday Street, from 8.30 pm.

This is what Slie says:

We’re having January off (well, we did run right up into December!) but return in February for the first blast of 2016: our regular core of players featuring Virginia Anderson (reeds), Lee Allatson (drums), Bruce Coates (saxes), Christopher Hobbs (piano and percussion) and Trevor Lines (bass), but this year we plan to augment the line up with different guest players each month… Spicy! Hope to see you there.

The guest player this month is Rick Nance.

The s.l.i.e are delighted to announce that our guest player for February’s event is Rick Nance (guitar). Rick Nance is a performer and musical researcher who plays trumpet and classical/electric guitar and is a composer of electro-acoustic music, primarily acousmatic. He has a PhD from DeMontfort University in Leicester, UK and is presently featured as a guest composer in the studios of Birmingham-Southern College. He has participated in free improvisation ensembles with surrealists TransMuseq, free music trio PhantomLimb, and the noise/improv collective Liquid Brick. His compositions have been performed in Paris, Pisa, New York, Liverpool, Mexico City, New Orleans, San Francisco, Birmingham, Alabama and other locales. His compositions and research focus on sound as plastic, and music as plastic art, akin to sculpture, painting or film. As listening is his main focus, over the years, deeper listening led from his interest in improvisation to acousmatic composition.

So, a whole lot of improv goodness. Hope to see you there. For more info, see their Facebook page.