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Title: …a settling stillness, weighted dust… A portfolio of original compositions and commentary
Authors: Cave, Samuel Charles
Advisors: Fox, C
Croft, J
Keywords: Overtone series;Decaying resonance;Bell-like sounds;Fragile intensity;Apotheosis
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: The compositions in this portfolio explore the technical and expressive applications of some sonic aspects of church bells and some theoretical aspects of English change ringing. In terms of compositional technique this research manifests as the exploration of decaying sonorities and decay-driven rhythms, overtone partials of the harmonic series, pitch and scordatura resources derived from the tuning analysis of specific bells, and the use of static and pulsating drones. These technical resources form the backbone of my harmonic and rhythmic language throughout this thesis and are seen to develop and undergo a process of reflective refinement across the portfolio. In addition, the works presented here explore my fascination with the use of improvisation and performer choice by means of aural response and interaction, the application of apotheosis endings and the practicalities, and artistically rewarding results, of selftranscription and arrangement. In general my music searches for a poignant blend of stasis and activity, of meditativeness and unpredictability, that I have termed ‘fragile intensity’. During the accompanying commentary the impact of these technical resources on the expressive content of my music is assessed and elucidated. An artistically fruitful tension between compositional intuition and intellectual selfanalysis is noted. An overall trend of diminishing reliance on large-scale prefabricated compositional systems in favour of small-scale bespoke procedures is observed. Within the context of the author’s compositions, this trend, together with an acquired instinct for the most successful deployment and contexts for the previously described technical explorations, is highlighted as artistically healthy and a potential sign of compositional growth.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:Music
Dept of Arts and Humanities Theses

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