PhD research summary

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PhD in Creative Music Practice  |  2013 – 2016

University of Edinburgh  |  Edinburgh College of Art (ECA)  |  Reid School of Music

Humanising relationships in live electronic performance

A professional clarinettist for over 20 years, my career has covered a broad spectrum of musical activities and interests, from concerts with orchestras and ensembles to free improvisation, arranging and conducting, education at all ages and standards, and more recently, solo performances with electronics.

The emergence of ‘electro-instrumental’ or ‘live electronic’ practice since the 1960s has afforded significant augmentation to traditional acoustic instruments in terms of timbre, harmony, pitch range and spatiality. More recent advances in computer memory and processing speed have also made it possible to develop real-time capability and forms of virtual dialogue – an exchange between human musicians and programmed machines. This combination of augmentation and exchange offers up new realms of expression to both composer and performer; a panoply of sonic possibilities and a meeting place for hitherto disparate musical genres, such as contemporary classical, electroacoustic music, minimalism, jazz, free improvisation, turntablism, IDM, glitch, electronica and noise.

What is “humanising”?

humanise verb [with obj.] 1 make (something) more humane or civilised

This practice-led research involves: documenting an exploration and expansion of live electronic repertoire for the clarinet (and bass clarinet); seeking to articulate the embodied knowledge of the experienced musical performer; studying and developing principles of ‘good practice’ in a still relatively young field, thereby creating a fruitful environment for collaboration, and ease of access for those wishing to explore the genre in the future.

humanise verb [with obj.] 2 give (something) a human character

My work also explores the relationships between human presences, machine intervention and considerations of space in live electronic ‘performance ecosystems’, and asks questions about identity, agency and perception in music making as a whole.

This 3 year PhD research programme at the ECA is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and supervised by Dr. Michael Edwards and Dr. Martin Parker.

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* Oxford Dictionary of English. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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