In the pipeline / Now and then / Recent things / Then and now / The others
Charlie Usher (1987, UK)
An assembly - 45’ - 2018 ♬
fl, clBb, Ssx; perc; pf + organino, e-pf; 2 vn, va, db; playback.
Constant miniatures on a large scale for An assembly.
What are you willing to do - 15’ - 2018
2 violins; background cello or double bass, mono playback.
For Emma Lloyd and Rachel Koblyakov.
Sight of the ruins - 30’ - 2017
baroque violin, 2 guitar-zithers, sine-waves, mono playback
four sections (as it stands):
1 Differences though they're not clear; the sensuality of the ruins
2 Kids listen to Rihanna somewhere in the distance,
the zithers tune in, there's chamber music;
ruins in civic space.
3 an unfurling of things over the evening -
one epigram and then the next
4 Lute music, brownian noise, binaural tones;
relaxation tapes and a soft critique, and sounds lower than we know.
Time and the ground shudder under our feet.
A lapse into romanticism, but not in the sound it makes.
The sight of the ruins, this our violent world - 2’ - 2017
clarinet in Bb and electric piano
Euphrates from the escarpment, western edge - 15’ - 2016
e-piano; afl, clBb, Ssax; perc; vn, vc, db; mono playback (good and bad speakers)
commissioned and premiered by SoundInitiative
for the Sirga Festival in Flix, Spain
thoughts at the time:
5 to 15 minutes of the instant
Gwenaëlle Rouger at the keys
the iconic, the story telling,
the photo versus the caption,
the material and the immaterial.
the length of an instant (< 3 seconds) / a long time (don't know)
public/private space / nature space,
new age music / 1950s Darmstadt music,
shopping malls / belvederes,
places to go to see, or rather to be shown,
and the ways we see once we're there:
to gaze - to scour - to regard - to look - to see - to glance - to spot something
more North Syrian topographies,
more confusion about where the music lies;
answers on a postcard.
So calm and don't want to end - 6’ - 2015 - ♬
piano + mono playback (small speakers)
commissioned and premiered by Miki Sawada
the (audio) slideshow in a darkened room, game of dissociations;
find that link, stand back,
the filmic reveal (maybe music can do it after all...),
old fashioned story-time and a race against infra-time.
Someone besides what they do - 8’ - 2015 - ♬
soprano, counter-tenor, tenor, bass, 4 different maracas
for EXAUDI directed by James Weeks
written as part of the Sound and Music Embedded scheme
Michael Nardone kept his receipts for a year
and published it;
then he said:
From the whiteness of our teeth and the distance between them and the price of the meals we touched with them,
a cashier may infer the extent of our means, though not the ways in which they came to be ours.
And what can we know about someone besides what they do, anyway?
I thought about:
music as reportage
– storytime versus documentary,
illuminating versus staging of text
– speech melody versus music melody,
4 people versus 1 person carrying a message.
It's dedicated to Bernard, to Britt, to Deb, to Jonathan, to Lucie, to Max.
Euphrates, western surface - 10’ - 2014
soprano saxophone and violin with fender rhodes and mono playback
Western edge, euphrates, desert tract - 6' - 2014
double bass and mono playback
commissioned by London Sinfonietta
What’s in the title?
Two generic topographic terms,
one (very long) place.
What’s its music?
A recording of a (very long) scale in (any) big, public room,
and the double bass.
A lot of the bass’s music was written to nestle in the recording,
as if it was part of the flora and fauna of the sound of that room,
A lot of it is written to just about shine through the recording.
I’m interested in the presence of music over noise, over other music,
and that we sift through all of this -
like that we can always hear a friend’s voice over the hubbub of a large room;
it's about the experiencing of the information.
Think about Syria at the moment; our closeness to the potential experiences of the conflict:
watching a late night news report -
hearing mortality stats on the radio -
seeing a photo of a bomb crater -
fleeing your shelled house.
Western edge, desert surface, euphrates, eastern edge - 6' - 2013 - ♬
4 ensembles: fl,ob,gt; 2pf; vln,vla,vc; prc,db
commissioned by ACM
Writing this piece, I thought about types of presence sound could offer :
strong presence through offering lots of information, less presence through offering lots of information,
strong presence through offering less information, less presence through offering less information,
quietness being more present than loudness, loudness offering no information, quietness offering a lot of information,
massiveness offering a lot of information, massiveness offering no information,
massiveness smothering information, intimacy offering a lot of information.
I'm still not convinced that any of this is quantifiable,
that's somewhere to start working.
The idea is that we stop hearing the long chord in the strings
and that it becomes part of the flora and fauna of the room
and it's only when the 2 pianos* come back after 3** minutes
(and that the pianos are now out of tune)
do we realise the chord has been sliding upwards all this time
and that this room has changed.
In Michael Snow's 'Wavelength', the zoom fits the story like a glove
in that what happens in the story fits uncannily into the limits of the narrowing shot.
The story gets less and less present, or rather offers less and less information.
Our view of the room changes, and we are left with a photo of the sea
- outdoors - unconfined by horizon - infinity -
so a sort of nudge to look past the immediate
- the medium - the information - the story -
and further afield, to reflection on other things.
Anyhow, Wavelength made was almost 50 years ago.
* for me the constant unison creates extreme mass
and the impression of infinitely numerous pianos
** 2 medium and 1 very long