Living scores: a portfolio of orally-transmitted experimental music compositions

Nickel, L (2017) Living scores: a portfolio of orally-transmitted experimental music compositions. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.


This commentary reflects on a portfolio containing five of my recent orally-transmitted experimental music compositions created between fall 2013 and fall 2016. These living scores investigate transmission, community, orality and forgetting, which are the major themes of my original work. This commentary relates particularly to two main research questions: 1) what happens to the traditional practices and relationships surrounding composers and performers if the material aspect of the musical score is removed; and 2) what musical materials and processes are particularly suited to an orally-transmitted compositional method? After a brief introduction in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 provides context to the portfolio, exploring the terms experimental music and living scores. The term living scores has been used by a variety of artists in contexts ranging from dance collaborations to digital media. A new definition of living scores is proposed based on a synthesis of these existing uses to mean contexts in which all compositional instructions are transmitted, rather than fixed. Living scores are essentially participatory -- they foreground collaboration and encourage the formation of micro-communities. Because they eschew written notation, living scores allow the act of forgetting to become a vital part of the creative process. Composers such as Eliane Radigue, Meredith Monk, and Yoko Ono are discussed in this new context. Chapters 3 and 4 discuss my work within the paradigm of living scores. In Chapter 3, after a typical transmission of my work is outlined, aspects of oral and digital transmission are detailed, including the media, length, density and frequency of transmissions. Many of these aspects are discussed in relation to the act of forgetting, which through this creative work can be seen as a productive feature of artistic creation. In Chapter 4, the musical material of the portfolio is discussed, with an emphasis on the use and transformation of borrowed musical source material. A solution for the integration of the collaborative process into performances of these works is proposed: partial transmissions overlapping with the performances. A brief conclusion outlines the possibility for future research that explores other modes of transmission, further musical explorations and repeated use of this compositional method.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

This thesis is composed of a single hard bound critical component of contextualising research, as well as the creative component, which contains audio files for five compositions.

Thesis supervised by Prof James Saunders.

Keywords: music, musical composition, experimental music, living scores, creative practice, transmission, community, orality, forgetting, original work, traditional practices, composers, performers, composer-performer relationship, musical score, orally-transmitted compositional method, collaboration, participatory involvement, media, digital transmission
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2018 16:23
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2018 16:23
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