Category Archives: Music Studies

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

James Saunders has uploaded his interview with Evan Parker. This is the final interview from this series.

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Interview with Evan Parker

Known for his fluid development of multiphonic aggregates to produce a constantly changing patterning, Evan Parker has evolved an instantly recognizable sound. Despite the flux of the music’s surface, he talks of his recent exploration of limited interval types to underpin his improvisations, emphasizing the reduced nature of his approach. Here practise and memorization are important, allowing the development of sequence-building methods which inform subsequent performances. The impact of group work is also of note: specific developments in his technique arose from the necessity of responding to the musicians around him, leading to the possibility of working as a soloist. Recently, his exploratory work with different groupings of musicians, taking on ‘the specifics of time and space’, has allowed the further development of the research ethos that lies at the heart of improvisation. Finding new things in new or old situations is central to experimentation. There are moments which leave an indelible mark on your memory, and hearing Parker perform live for the first time was, for me, one of these. At the beginning of a workshop in Huddersfield whilst I was a student, he talked a little about what he did, and then played for five minutes: I was completely unprepared for the complexity of the sound, and the shape of the resultant performance, and it has stayed with me since then.

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The interview was conducted by email between 24 February 2007 – 4 August 2008

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicRead the full interview here.

All the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

James Saunders has uploaded his interview with Bernhard Günter.

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Interview with Bernhard Günter:

Meticulous placement and balancing of sound is readily apparent in Bernhard Günter’s work, whether electro-acoustically composed or, more recently, improvised. Whilst he points out its wide dynamic range, it is essentially a quiet music, one which seeks to draw us in as listeners. The body of work for which he is perhaps best known – the series of recordings beginning with his 1993 release Un peu de neige salie – explores a reduced palette of glitch sounds, working with highly detailed textures which have an innate complexity. Günter’s approach foregrounds aspects of sounds that otherwise go unnoticed, whether due to existing on the border of sound and silence, or their perceived ancillary status as musical material. Whilst he is at pains to point out that he does not consider his music experimental, given it is ostensibly result rather than process oriented, this particular concern has much in common with other practitioners in the field. His processing of sampled sounds strips them of their more conventional meanings, allowing him to work more closely with them as abstract sonic materials. His recent improvisation projects have continued to explore this reduced soundworld, working first with Mark Wastell and Graham Halliwell as +minus, and later with Gary Smith as Klangstaub. Here too a slow, breath-paced layering of gradually changing drones allows the material’s detail to emerge over time.

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The interview was conducted by email between 2 January – 10 February 2004, with the postscript being added in August 2008.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicRead the full interview here.

All the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.

Interview with Lucy Green by Gareth Dylan Smith

Posted by Luana Life, Marketing Coordinator

An Interview with Lucy Green

Lucy Green, Professor of Music Education at the Institute of Education, University of London and author of How Popular Musicians Learn (2002) and Music, Informal Learning and the School: A New Classroom Pedagogy (2008) discusses research that sparked from a burning question. Listen and learn from this passionate music educator as she speaks with interviewer, Gareth Dylan Smith, author of I Drum, Therefore I Am (2013).

 

Sample of book reviews:

Music informal learning and the schoolMusic, Informal Learning and the School: A New Classroom Pedagogy

‘… this is a very important music education book, not only challenging established views and prejudices of music teaching, but also demonstrating how teachers could act to make a difference and work for change. Reading this book is a must for every music educator, not necessarily with the aim of copying every detail of the project, but to relate to, reflect and act upon in his/her ongoing music teaching. This project is also a very good example of praxis-based research. The thick descriptions and the sharp, well-structured analyses offer a great amount of valuable knowledge to researchers as well as educators.’ Music Education Research ‘… the sophisticated and methodical analysis that Green brings to this work is a helpful illumination that should empower, promote and extend the activity of music educators across our schools.’ Journal of Music Technology and Education

How popular musicians learnHow Popular Musicians Learn

‘… [a] stimulating book … lucid analysis … thought-provoking.’  Times Educational Supplement ‘Lucy Green’s latest book has been on the shelves for only a year or two, but already feels like a necessary part of music education literature … Returning to this book a year after I first read it, I have found new aspects of interest and value, as well as much which has quickly become familiar and helpful to educational discussion. Lucy Green has navigated the boundaries of academic disciplines and musical genres with great skill: I would recommend this book to any reader with an interest in musical learning …’  Popular Music

Examination Copies These titles are available on a 60 day trial basis for lecturers considering course adoption. To request a copy of a book, fill out the online inspection/examination form.

 

Allan F. Moore shares his thoughts on the publishing process of his book Song Means: Analysing and Interpreting Recorded Popular Song.

Posted by Luana Life, Marketing Coordinator

In this post, Allan Moore shares his thoughts on the publishing process—from germ to publication—of his book Song Means: Analysing and Interpreting Recorded Popular Song.

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Song MeansSong Means was some ten years in the writing. It had its roots in my undergraduate music studies, where the requirement to ‘analyse’ a piece did not seem to me adequately answered, even then, by simple parsing of harmonies and description of form. The list of questions I generated in order to get further into a piece eventually, after much experience of teaching analysis, and notwithstanding the shift of application to a popular music repertoire, became the germ which generated the book, and which, in its latest guise, appears as the book’s final chapter. The success I had in teaching through this interrogative method encouraged me to want to share it with the community of readers: my first aim in writing the book was not, then, to contribute to the field as much as to contribute to the potential understanding of listeners. The serious consideration of listeners, however, is not something that musicology is very good at, while the serious consideration of what listeners listen to is not something that popular music studies excels in. As I wrote the book, then, I realized I had the potential opportunity to intervene in two distinct fields. Reviews and citations of the book suggest to me that this aim may come to be realized, although it is still a little too early (the book has been out less than three years) to tell. And, surprisingly, nobody has yet taken me to task for what, from my vantage-point, is the book’s particularly glaring omission, something I shall have to fill if it ever goes to a second edition.

I continue this binary for a moment, for there is a yet more important point to make: musicology, as a whole, regards popular music as musically too simplistic to bother with; popular music studies, as a whole, regards popular music as culturally too important to approach with techniques which risk charges of dread formalism. In both fields, experts tend to ground their expertise in the privileged access they believe this gives them to the music’s meaning. My other key intention was to argue, and provide a methodology to underpin the position that, whatever else experts are, they are not repositories of meaning.

I am fortunate indeed to have gained much experience in academic writing, which meant I was able to approach this book in a very different way to that which I used to approach my earliest books. If as an author you believe in what you are writing, then while you should seek guidance both before you start, and in rewriting once you have finished various drafts, I believe it is crucial that you do not seek guidance while you are writing, if your writing is in any way to be described as the result of a creative process. For this book, I was able to manoeuvre my other research activities and commitments such that I wrote a full, detailed, draft of the book before writing the proposal. This meant that the proposal had a convincing level of depth, which is missing from many book proposals I have seen. Since the job of the proposal is to convince publishers that they need to take on a book, the more fully formed your ideas are, the more they have been tried out (on the page, at least), the more committed you should be able to make your proposal. If you can so organize your time, I think this is far preferable to the practice of writing a  proposal and a couple of draft chapters and hoping you can fulfil their potential later on if called upon to do so.

The idea of writing being ‘enjoyable’ is something I find utterly strange! Writing is difficult, it’s a chore, and there are always innumerable things I would rather be doing. When I say ‘writing’ in this sense, I guess I mean inventing adequate words to put on paper in the first place. It is a completely different process to going through and re-writing, which I find inexplicably engaging and enjoyable. Sometimes my first pass has to be to put down any old rubbish, because it can always be improved on (you should have seen the way this paragraph first looked…). I must admit, though, I also find the process of relating my ideas to the music I hear to be fascinating, whichever actually comes first. And to be able to listen, to just about anything I choose to listen to, because I can eventually justify it as ‘work’, feels like the most extreme luck. I hope it doesn’t run out quite yet.

Allan F. Moore 2015

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Allan MooreAbout the Author: Allan F. Moore is Professor of Popular Music at the University of Surrey. Author of seven monographs and edited collections, he is series editor for Ashgate’s Library of Essays in Popular Music, has been on the editorial board of Popular Music since 2000, and was founding co-editor of twentieth-century music. He has published nearly 100 articles and reviews in the field.

‘Song Means is an astonishing achievement, and an exceptionally important book. Drawing on more than 20 years of his own writing on popular music, but synthesising and developing it in a quite remarkable way, Allan Moore accomplishes what seems almost impossible: a completely engaging, beautifully clear, authoritative, and undogmatic account of musical meaning across a huge range of pop songs. Written in direct, accessible and uncomplicated language, but tackling fundamental questions of musical meaning and the nature of musical materials, the book is rooted in Moore’s own encyclopaedic knowledge of popular music set in a sophisticated conceptual framework. This is a landmark in the musicology of pop, and a book that will have a profound impact on how people think about, and understand, the most globally pervasive form of music of our times: the pop song.’   Eric F. Clarke FBA, Heather Professor of Music, St Aldate’s, University of Oxford, UK

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

This week, James Saunders has uploaded his interview with Manfred Werder.

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Interview with Manfred Werder:

I came across Manfred Werder’s music for the first time in 2000, following up encouraging comments made by others about his work and that of the Edition Wandelweiser composers with whom he is associated, eventually meeting him whilst he was on a residency in London later that year. These composers, centered around Antoine Beuger’s publishing company, create an uncompromising music: it deals with extremes and archetypes, is generally very quiet and silence has a large share of the often extended performance durations. The presentation of sound material is very clear: gridded structures and the establishment of spaces in which sounds might be placed are common traits. Werder’s music comprises a number of different ongoing series. His ausführende writing project (1999?) is a set of compositions for between one and nine performers. Each of these pieces contains a series of 160,000 time units, each lasting 12 seconds and consisting of six seconds of sound, followed by six seconds of silence. The scores are performed in succession, with the next performance starting at the action following the final one of the previous instalment. In his recent dated pieces however, Werder specifies a gradually reducing number of conditions for the presentation of sounds and actions, from the trio stück 2003’s instruction for two of the performers to play a common pitch lasting three to seven seconds once during the performance, to the more open requirement of 2005/1: place/ time// ( sounds ). The precision and subtlety of his exploration of modes of performative action can be seen when comparing this with the later 2006/2, which specifies: places// a time/// ( sounds ). Werder’s music questions our place in the world as both participants and observers.

The interview was conducted by email between 1st-10th February 2004.

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The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicRead the full interview here.

All the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

This week, James Saunders has uploaded his interview with Christopher Fox.

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Interview with Christopher Fox

The draw of the experimental music canon for Christopher Fox as a young composer was its opening up of possibilities denied by various intransigent musical orthodoxies which surrounded him. Whilst at first listen the soundworlds of his subsequent compositions are somewhat disparate, in much of his music this is as a result of the collision of opposites: clarity and complexity, consonance and dissonance, rhythm and stasis, indeterminacy and fixation. It is this that binds his work at a deeper level alongside a sustained exploration of process in many guises, a strategy which underpins much experimental music. Indeed, there has been a marked shift in his recent work towards structural mobility and other indeterminate approaches to realizing material in particular, making this more explicit. His large-scale Everything You Need To Know (1999-2001) for up to ten players and voice(s) comprises 26 separately realizable compositions and can last from 5-85 minutes in performance. Whilst such modularity draws comparisons with the inauguration of modern experimentalism almost half a century earlier, Fox says these pieces offer order rather than anarchy, and it is perhaps that which sets them apart. I first became aware of his music in the early 1990s and was drawn to the sudden cuts between either subtly or extremely differentiated materials. The objectivity of this work was striking through its presentation of material in such a clear manner. Later, as my doctoral supervisor, the discussions we had helped shape my ideas on open form pieces at a time when we were both producing modular work, albeit in entirely different ways.

The interview was conducted by email from 5 November 2004 – 7 November 2005.

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The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicRead the full interview here

All the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

This week, James Saunders has uploaded his interview with Phil Niblock.

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Interview with Phil Niblock:

Phill Niblock has been developing his layered drone pieces for nearly forty years, working with multi-tracked sampled recordings of solo instruments that combine to produce a vibrant beating of fractionally detuned difference and sum tones. Heard live, the physical impact of his work is powerful: the chaotic richness found within the wall of sound he presents takes time to emerge, but once attuned to reveals an interweaving of dense oscillating counterpoint. The scale of his pieces is important too in this regard: most average around 20 minutes, a duration which is essential for this attuning process. I first heard Niblock’s live performance in Ostrava in 2001. He was midway through his annual European concert tour and spent a morning playing five pieces accompanied by his films of people working. Although I had heard some of his music on CD previously, this had not prepared me for its live performance. As with my early encounters with the work of many of the people interviewed here, it was an experience which changed how I thought about music.

The interview was conducted by telephone on 11 May 2007.

Read the full interview here.

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The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicAll the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.