Studies

Brief descriptions and scores for project studies are given below. Excerpts from recordings are also included where available (all excerpts start at the beginning of works).

Index

On the left-hand side of the chart below is listed each of the natural phenomena used as models in the project. The right-hand side lists the studies created, each linked to the model(s) it uses. Click on one of the models or studies for details.

Models


Vortex

A whirling mass of fluid or air such as a whirlpool or tornado. In a whirlpool, water is drawn in from the surrounding area in a spiral fashion. Towards the centre of the vortex the surface of the water is pulled downwards. Water flows up and down and circles around the centre.

Helical Flow

The manner in which water flows in a ('horizontal') circular motion as it progresses down a channel such as a river or pipe. The more complex the shape of the channel, the more complex the flow. Helixes may interrupt or form within each other.

Vortex Street

A repeating pattern of vortices (alternating left and right) caused by the unsteady separation of flow around an object. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von_Kármán_vortex_street

Oxbow Formation

Over time a river or stream has a tendency to meander to a greater and greater extent. Oxbow lakes are formed when a meander in a river is cut off to form a separate body of water. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxbow_lake

Regular Solids

Otherwise known as platonic solids (such as cube). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platonic_solids. This part of the research focuses on how the appearance of a 3-dimensional shape changes when revolving around one or more axis(es).

 

Studies

 

Study 1 : "Okeanos I"

This study is the first of three to use the model of a vortex. It takes a 2-dimensional view of a whirlpool as if looking down on the surface of the water which may be seen as a spiral. It was composed for koto, sho, oboe, clarinet and viola and performed by members of Okeanos. The primary focus of the study are durational structures (phrases lengths) which are modeled on the ever decreasing lengths of 360° arcs as the flow travels towards the centre of the spiral. The instruments are split up into three parts; koto, sho each on their own and the oboe, clarinet and viola together in one. Each part describes a different spiral in the same vortex as shown in the diagram the right.

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Study 2 : "Sixteen"

This study uses the model of helical flow of water in a channel. It was composed for a group of eight solo singers from the vocal group The Sixteen, plus an additional chorus of singers from Magdala and Schola Cantorum of Oxford. The structure is based on a series of Helixes of both duration and pitch. Durations and rhythms lengthen and shorten independently as they progress between opposite points on the 'circle' formed by the helix. Pitches rise and fall in a corresponding manner.

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Study 3 : "Wind Quintet"

This study uses the vortex street model. It was composed for a standard wind quintet : flute, oboe, clarinet, french horn & bassoon. The successive spirals are interpreted as durational and dynamic maps so that a series of sustained pitches each designated by the length of a single spiral, fluctuate in volume over their duration. Each set of alternating spirals are interpreted by two of the instruments, one for one side, the other for the other side. Pairs of instruments take it in turn to form series of vortex streets which decay over time.

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Study 4 : "Ziggurat"

This actually consists of 2 studies modeled on the changing course of a river over time, leading to the creation of an oxbow lake. It is scored for the instruments of the Ziggurat Ensemble: duduk, qanun, percussion, erhu, viola da gamba and double bass. In Study 4a the stringed instruments describe the direction of a section of river through pitch (changing over time, via a number of 'stills'). Meanwhile, the other instruments use the principal of progressive erosion and deposition that occurs at the bends of the river to create a series of chords. Study 4b, uses a similar interpretation of erosion and deposition while two soloists (duduk and viola da gamba) describe the direction of the river. These solo parts also employ a 'helical' rotation of pitches and durations.

view scores: study 4a , study 4b

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Study 5 : "Bergonzi"

This study addresses the potential of two concepts. The first is of a regular solid rotating in space (see for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Octahedron.gif) and the second is the relationship of the 'viewer' to that object. It was composed and first performed by the Bergonzi String Quartet. The study specifically addresses x elements. The first is the concept of a spinning object, in this case a regular (platonic) octahedron, each face of which is interpreted through pitch. The second is the concept of distance, this is interpreted both in terms of intensity and detail (i.e. the nearer the object, the greater detail may be seen). The third element is the position of the object in two dimensions in relation to the centre which is done via pitch. Together these three elements over a series of episodes, explore the interpretation of an object in a three dimensional space in relation to the 'viewer'.

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Study 6 : "for Clive"

This study is the third to make an interpretation of a vortex, this time in four dimensions. It was composed for Shakuhachi especially for Clive Bell. The score acts as a pitch duration and dynamic map around which to improvise and is based on a characteristic flow around a vortex.

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Study 7 : "Okeanos II"

his study further develops principles of helical flow and representation of regular solids. It was composed for the same line-up as Study 1 : "Okeanos I" plus shakuhachi and performed by Okeanos. It takes as it's model a solid in a flow of liquid such as a stone in a stream and the effect of different rates of flow on that solid.

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Study 8 : "CoMA"

This study takes the same 2-dimensional view of a vortex as Study 1. It also interprets the geometric spiral shape with duration and also pitch, this time across the transverse plane such as depicted in the diagram to the right. It interprets a set of spirals of different dimensions an open number of times. Each line of the spiral is designated a pitch and a duration according to two scales on the two axes (duration and pitch). Dynamics relate directly to the distance of the line to the centre of the spiral. It was created for the CoMA open-score project and is scored for any 13 or more instruments or voices. The 13 parts are split up into 2 groups of 6 and 7 parts.

view scores: Group 1- Group 2-

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Study 9 : "Isis"

This is the second of two studies which use the model of a vortex street. It is composed for piano and vibraphone. Several vortex street models are created and each vortex is interpreted on a 2 dimensional plane when one dimension is assigned to pitch and the other to duration. Both instruments are percussive (played in the conventional manner) and durations are defined as single points in time. These points are defined by the shape of the vortex street with each point marking out a 90ª segment on the curves (with the exception of the start of each vortex street). To see how you can view Isis Appendix (pdf).

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