121 Seven Second Nocturnes for Learners
A set of musical fragments and propositions, created in response to an open call for works on the theme of "seven seconds". These miniatures are conceived as seeds, to be used as audio stimulus for further improvisation. They are geared towards intermediate to advancing pianists in a pedagogical context.
A thought of falling
"In 2016, my mother moved house northwards, leaving behind the landscape of my childhood, and returning to that of her own.
Although I once visited Northumberland, as a child, at that time I had no understanding of the profound natural beauty with which the county is blessed. Great hills to the north, at the border with Scotland, give way to foothills of dense deciduous forest, quiet and old. A largely agricultural centre pushes southwards to urban edge of the City of Newcastle, while to the east, a grey coastline is carved out, ruthlessly hewn by the cold and foreboding North Sea.
The foot of the sea-cliff under Dunstanburgh Castle – the building itself decaying majestically – is a place of dark beauty. Columns of ash-coloured rock, peppered with green moss and the white of birds, cascade from the ruin to the blue-grey water beneath. Even against the vastness of the sky, the cliffs stand firm – a sheer wall of rock braced against the sea. At dawn through the mist, the cliffs emerge slowly, as if the sun were gradually drawing them upwards, rock by rock."
Body is a text score for musician.
The premiere recording was made at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (CA) during the summer of 2018.
The score is as follows:
Prologue (without sounding)
Approach your instrument.
Listen with your eyes.
Listen with your memory.
Listen with your body.
Listen to understand.
I – Skin
Find your skin
Where are all the things that have touched it?
Where are your memories of touch?
Where is your pattern and your habit?
Say no at points of continuation
This skin is not continuous
II – Muscle
Find your muscle
Move sound into one point on the body
Interrogate that sound
Flex and contract
Breathe through moving the point of the sound
Where are your points of turning?
III – Bone
Find your bone
One material, one palette, one body
Understand the support this gives you
Do not think about transitions
Transitions will occur
Book of Trees
Book of Trees is a set of illustrated miniatures for piano, based on the native trees of Herefordshire, England. Conceived for piano learners, it is a work in which the movements can be played in any order, with the prelude (doubling as an interlude) repeated ad libitum throughout. It has been performed by a number of pianists, including Gregor Forbes, Christopher Gill, Maya-Leigh Rosenwasser, and Henry McPherson, who premiered the work in March 2016.
Cities/Staircases: scenes from the edge of the world
Exhibited at the Coantivirus digital Exhibition. NY20+ Gallery (Chengdu, China), 2021.
Exhibited at "Apropos of Aesthetics" Virtual Reality Exhibition, 2021.
These 20 panels were created after a month of the UK lockdown, in April 2020. The panels show fragments of imagined spaces, streets, cities, skylines, staircases - abstractions of the ordinary in daily life, thrown into a disparate narrative of uncertainty. The work inhabits the realm of trace and memory of spaces previously inhabited - a dreamscape of forms beyond the now, at the edge of the world.
Cloud forms is a series of short meditations for piano inspired by the shifting skies above the Northumberland Hills. The last movement can be played as a standalone piece, under the title Wintersun.
Installed at DESPINA, Rio de Janeiro, BR, September 2018, and the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, UK, February 2019
Colagens/Collages is an installation and accompanying audio album of sonic collages, produced as part of the Open Bodies residency (Residência Corpos Abertos) at DESPINA, Rio de Janeiro, BR, during September 2018. The residency, led by DESPINA and the Fruitmarket Gallery, and funded by the British Council, brought Scotland-based artists together with Brazilian artists in Rio, to work in parallel on projects exploring themes of gender and sexuality.
The audio samples used in the project were taken from locations of contemporary and historical importance to the Queer/LGBTQ(+) community of Rio de Janeiro's Zona Sul. Locations included: nightlife venues, places of support and shelter, public spaces, places of celebration, and the streets at day and night. Recordings were taken in the neighbourhoods of: Glória, Centro, Copacabana, Ipanema, Lapa, Urca, Botafogo, Catete, Flamengo, Jardim Botânico, Laranjeiras, and Santa Teresa.
During the installation at DESPINA, individuals followed a trail of deer-prints through the gallery space, along a walkway of found sounds from the city. At the door to the upstairs bathroom, the boy (o menino) offered them a key, and asked if they would like to listen.
During the installation at the Fruitmarket Gallery, audience members moved freely through the gallery throughout the showing, listening to the sound-collages on headphones connected to pink MP3 players mounted on the wall. Henry McPherson then performed using tiles covering a large banner, on which were written pieces of text collected from the residency period in Rio de Janeiro. Henry gradually uncovered the pieces of text, by smashing and rearranging tiles, while the entirety of the album of collages was played through loud-speakers.
A work for solo Guzheng written using a bespoke tablature developed with Guzheng player Zilan Liao (廖子岚). Conceived as part of Psappha Ensemble's 'Composing for...' scheme. Crocus is a contemplative piece which explores the delicate resonances of the Guzheng through a custom microtonal tuning.
The hand-made score features a painted crocus inset within the binding.
Death the Mother
This short piece is taken from the last movement of “Mannequin”, a set of three portraits inspired by the work of Alexander McQueen. This movement of the work drew inspiration from an ensemble of McQueen’s featured in the “Savage Beauty” collection - "the Horn of Plenty" - featuring a headpiece, corset, and skirt made of hundreds of dark black feathers. Mannequin was commissioned by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for PLUG 10, and was premiered by Ensemble Modern.
Installation (video and sound) for smartphone using field recordings and video snippets from the British countryside. Best enjoyed through headphones. Created in response to Yoko Ono's Grapefruit
Easter Raises the Dead
Easter Raises the Dead was commissioned by Maria Sappho for the album 'Rocks I Have Taken'. The album features sonic experiments by Alessia Anastassopulos, Ronan Whittern, Dejana Sekulic, Brice Catherin, Katie Oswell, Henry McPherson, Colin Frank, and Maria Sappho
"Rocks I have Taken is a visual album of stories, sounds, and videos of rocks that I have collected from places I have been or places I am from. Each rock is paired with a story of a land which in one way or another has felt the invasion of human presence. These are stories both ancient and not so distant, which tell different paths of exchanging histories, conquered and stolen lands, lost cultures and languages, but growth and change nonetheless."
A study in notation and illustration. In Ecosystem I, players explore and improvise from a two-panel scene of flora in the undergrowth, following their own path through "not-quite" notation and fragments of manuscript. First performed by Ensemble Academy of the Koninklijk Conservatorium Den Haag at Dag in de Branding Festival, Zuiderstrandtheater, Den Haag, NL, June 2019.