|:: 'Old Joe', University of Birmingham, 2014 ::|
Walking up the stairs to the foyer entrance of the Bramall music building at the University of Birmingham, I couldn't help but think, 'Not in Kansas anymore....'. For two weeks I will be a visiting student at their Music Department with direct focus on the electroacoustic section, under the supervision of Dr Scott Wilson (Supercollider extraordinare). As the home to the renowned BEAST system, multichannel works (live and static) are well catered for - with a number of sound studios available for post-grads, in a variety of multichannel configurations. My timing is at a point of change in the department, as Professor Jonty Harrison is on the cusp of retirement from his position as director of BEAST - none-the-less, a small cross section of the international electroacoustic and acousmatic community can be found tucked away in these culdesacs of sound and measured thought.
The downfall of coming all the way from Australia for such a visit, is the unrealistic expectation that on entering this inspiring and accomplished institution, all my previous compositional 'road-blocks', will be solved. Of course - it takes only a matter of hours to consciously acknowledge 1 - the previously unvoiced expectation and 2 - the fact that these technical and creative hurdles are still as present as I am..... Unfortunately, I can't leave them - along with my unwatered plants, behind in Australia. Unfortunately, I cannot kill them with neglect......
The upfalls of this journey start with the stripping away of your comfort zone of excuses that you have oh-so-craftily propped up around you to mask these greater areas needing your address - leaving your (lack-of) accomplishments raw and exposed, under the scrutiny of your own scathing eye.... In more congenial wording - 'It is very clear, the areas that I wish to improve in my work'. Having had a two year hiatus from live performance and a strong focus on compositions whereby the field recording is the primary intent - I now need to switch my gaze back to more 'gestural' composition - that constructs its own agenda via creative control and execution.
Enough of my ranting - having spent the last three-and-a-bit days in the studio - only to CREATE more problems than I intended to fix, I am truly beginning to understand the value of knowing that you know nothing... Now that I (think) I know what I do not know, I will begin again, from (almost) scratch, and see where these works develop. At this stage my focus is on purely software/midi capability. Sound diffusion on multichannel/custom systems - the most effective/flexible (to my ear) way to do so and Sonic processing - particularly in live performance via midi control. Any plans for collecting field recordings in Birmingham will have to wait until Italy and the Interferenze festival, along with the indulgence of creative composition.....
More details to come ~
This intensive is made possible by the generous support of the Ian Potter Cultural Trust.