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The Crutch of Memory

By Aaron Cassidy


Details: This work, for indeterminate solo string instrument, has received six international performances, including Samtida Musik, Stockholm; York; Durham; Aviero, Portugal; and Baltimore, USA. The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival premiere was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Hear and Now. Portfolio: 1) songs only as sad as their listener (2006), for solo trombone. 2) I, purples, spat blood, laugh of beautiful lips (2006), for solo voice and live, computer-generated pitch material. 3) The Pleats of Matter (2007), for electric guitar with three outputs and digital/analogue processing. 4)Programmes available on request. Context: In this work the sonic surface is driven by physical states – the interface between the body of the player and the body of the instrument, and physical gestures. The notation employs a detailed, multi-layered tablature that independently controls the movement up/down the fingerboard, the spacing width of the fingers, the contact between fingers and strings, as well as the actions of the bow and right hand. Because it is physical movement that is prescribed, the piece can be performed on a variety of string instruments (any bowed, non-fretted instrument with at least four adjacent strings) and with a variety of scordature (following a series of guidelines given in the score). The work is the first of a series of works employing idiomatic extended tablature notations for a variety of instruments, including songs only as sad as their listener; I, purples, spat blood, laugh of beautiful lips; and The Pleats of Matter. Each explores the possibilities of highly prescribed physical actions coupled with highly indeterminate sonic results. A discussion of The Crutch of Memory can be found in Mieko Kanno, ‘Prescriptive notation: limits and challenges’, Contemporary Music Review, vol.26, no.2, April 2007, pp.231–54; ISSN 0749-4467 (pp.249–53)

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