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    Music and architecture: a composer’s perspective on form, process and product

    Richards, Emma-Ruth (2014) Music and architecture: a composer’s perspective on form, process and product. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    This portfolio consists of fourteen compositions: 1. on hearing light fall (piano sextet) 2. Woven Palaces (saxophone quartet) 3. Piranesi’s Fantasies (solo piano) 4. Portrait of Marinela (8 players) 5. Hora Spoitorilor (solo viola) 6. de stamparare (solo oboe) 7. Fantasia on theme of Marinela (solo piano) 8. Caught on the Corner (wind quartet) 9. A Body is a Body is a Body Even So (SSAATTBB acapella) 10. Proprioception (symphony orchestra) 11. Nacre Voit (string quartet and trumpet) 12. Cantec Tesute (14 players) 13. Ikon (solo clarinet) 14. Traffick – excerpts: Sc.1 Mother(s) and Daughter(s) // Sc. 2 Road Kill (chamber opera) In these pieces I explore a variety of compositional processes and show how I aim find a rationale to realise a poetic, abstract architectural idea. Whilst there are a variety of separate ‘leitmotifs’ in my output there is a clear distinction between both the technical and expressive concerns that results in a hierarchical level in the compositional process. The larger-scale, structure-specific translation of architectural spaces into my musical composition is of paramount importance whilst my interest in the trumpet timbre and a particular anonymous Romanian folk theme Hora Spoitorilor are material-specific, creative springboards and used more intuitively. The more technical ‘environmental’ concerns are a method for organising the intuitive use of particular sonorities and the melodic and rhythmic qualities of the folk tune. Modern art and architecture deals with the sensuous relationship between space and artistic experience as well as the notion of drawing a concept of space into the work itself, not just symbolically, but experientially. In a similar way I draw on particular sonorities of the trumpet timbre, and the instrument’s associations with light, by mapping these sensuous associations to my treatment of, and appreciation of, its sound whilst still continuously focusing on architectural ideas as subjective metaphors in my work. Although each piece does prescribe its own terms, in-as-much that it stands in its own right, this thesis will look at the role of the pieces as ‘satellite’ works surrounding the final work Traffick. My in-depth research into particular sonorities, harmonic progressions, orchestration, and augmentation and diminution of rhythmic devices are all compositional processes that have informed my writing in Traffick. Each piece is also contextualised with other works of art and artistic ideas. This exchange is sometimes with painting or sculpture but most importantly for this work with architecture and philosophical writings on architecture.

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