Thursday, 8 March 2012

Colours of the Capital Garden, disseminated with permission as a tribute to ‘The Monument Project’ by Chris Meigh Andrews, currently Professor of Electronic & Digital Art at UCLan.
I discovered ‘The Monument Project’ during my research into material associated with ‘Colours of the Capital Garden’ and found that the moving images so beautifully depicted the capital city of London as it changed over time. As the movie had no sound, I approached Professor Meigh Andrews for permission to put music to the project as a tribute and to highlight the synchronicity of the two pieces.

The installation provides a live stream of continually modified time-lapse images 24 hours a day, 7 days per week via a video screen display which is sited on the piazza near the base of the Monument.

Details of the Monument project can be found at the following links:

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Composition in Action

My first attempt at using screen flow to demonstrate my creative process, hopefully I will improve on this in time. This is a short clip of score and audio of 'The Russian Girl' for Solo Baritone Voice and Piano.

Practice? What Practice?

Would you acknowledge a Music Composer as an Artist?
If so would you expect them to be creating practical artworks?
If so what would you class as a practical piece of art?

It seems strange that I have only just now tackled with this ambiguity. It seems the nature of my practice does not concern creating but immediately documenting my creative ideas as accurately as possible so that they may be interpreted/ brought to life in the by the performance or production of others. The musical score works as a widely recognised and accurate means of portraying the detail and conveyance of a composer’s work.

However, if we consider documentation to be secondary to practice; as a byproduct or after thought reflecting over the use of creative abilities that are known to us tacitly, in this instance where is the practical work.

‘the relationship between documentation and work entwined, mutually compromised, mutually generative, mutually reflective. Increasingly it is no longer accurate to think about the difficulty of reading the documentation without witnessing the work, but equally, it is difficult to think of experiencing the work without knowledge of the documentation: each is only half the picture.’
Reason (2011) p. 169

In this quotation Reason describes the iterative nature of this binary relationship. Although I am always able to further document the process of my work in a reflective manner, what I take from that reflection then informs a practice that is based around a specific set and highly traditional syntax with certain rules and constraints.

Undoubtedly the musical ear has certain phenomenological insights into sonic beauty that even the most sophisticated scores cannot represent. However this is where the process begins and ends for me.

Although the notion of performance is implicit to the process of score writing there is no necessity for my involvement after the fact of completion.

Is it possible that technology has significantly stunted my artistic ambition?

By relying on score writing software as a means executing my creative process have I ultimately created an archive instead of a portfolio?

  • Reason, M, Dorey Richmond, J, Gray, V & Walker, N (2001). 'Performance, documentation and the archive within the institution'. In McGillivray Ed Hidden Archives. Peter Lang: Amsterdam. pp 149-71.

Sunday, 12 February 2012


MPR090 Creativity & Knowledge 2

A Brief Review of – Dean & Smiths (2009) ‘Introduction: Practice-led-Research, Research-led-Practice – Towards the Iteractive Cyclic Web’.

Smith and Dean’s writing here firstly explains that they intend to convey the importance of creative practices in the University environment in regards to research practices.

Over the past 20 years the notion that the creative arts are now an accepted academic endeavour with Higher Education has been growing rapidly also illuminating that these practices bring a great opportunity for ground breaking research.

This Practice-led-Research or Research-led-Practice is proving to alter the way we practically and conceptually engage with creative topics and is essentially reshaping the Higher education system showing us that there is in fact a scientific nature to the way we make and think about the arts.

 Bi-Directional Focus
Dean and Smith describe this relationship as a bi-directional focus where both of these seemingly binary elements are in direct support of each other. This gives the potential for discovering a multitude of directions in academic research as well as making a positive impact over creative practice; hence why they do not specify inclination over the two phrases. It is this interwoven relationship of two contrasting process that they describe as an iteractive cyclic web.

Dean & Smith’s intention was to analyse this relationship in its current and past state discussing issues arising over different art disciplines in context with the political structure of the ever changing higher education institution that is the basis and authority for this research’s existence. This inspired their attempt to answer the broader question of what knowledge is in terms of how we understand creative process.


The notion of practice-led-research has many different terminologies as it encumbers values from different ends of the spectrum of academic although all these terminologies are defined as the same point
‘the way in which practice can result in research insights, such as those that arise out of making a creative work and/or in the documentation and theorisation of that work.’
Smith & Dean (2009) p. 2

Dean & Smith want us to realise that academic writing can lead to creative functions and that the conceptual knowledge that exists in our making is already out there we just have not analysed it in a conscious manner yet.

The previous traditions of higher education gave great preference to work in the fields of humanities, theory, criticism and history over any kind of creative based subject, even English literature something as intrinsically founded in our culture. Some 30 years later and we find that creative practitioners have coin this phrases encouraging the system to acknowledge the insights derived from practices as bases for research regarded as highly as other research methods.
The Conundrum

Although, one might encounter immediate problems when engaging with the idea of research in this way as its meaning is founded in the definition of knowledge. Academia for many years had implicit definitions about the nature knowledge; that it is tangible and a solely conscious activity; it is transferable through language or communication and is congruent with that of its origin. Some find the notion of knowledge or meaning being conveyed through artistic practice to be a problematic idea.

Conventional knowledge in academic appreciation is recognised as either verbal or numerical standards whereas most of art especially music which is purely sonic and although conveys some tangible values, emotions and associations it cannot convey it’s phenomenological worth as a mathematical accuracy even though we cannot deny that knowledge is used to create and perform it.

The concept of knowledge is unstable when regarded in terms of a post modernistic perspective; it essentially denies knowledge as absolute truth and undermines the authority of scientific fact.

In consideration of this, research is a process that constitutes primary knowledge that can be observed in many different lights, and as we analyse this we can see how different interpretations overlap making it ambiguous whether there is a particular way of viewing. These observations result in varying levels of stability and precision and when correlated with traditional quantitative and qualitative conceptual models this works to greater affect.

Dean & Smith then go on to explain a bit about differences in qualitative research; a reflexive approach keeping the researcher fairly close to the material and participants, an example of this being anthropology and quantitative research which mathematically treats the material and participants under particular conditions. Both have their strengths and weakness for gathering information and are two of many different approaches.

Although the relationship that links these approaches to practice-led-research is a complex they are tools to keep us better informed as practitioners to innovative processes and how we might document this in academic theory. Despite its complexities practice-led-research is a highly informed and unique way of conducting research.

Both I and Liam Walsh are currently working at York St John University alongside Dr. Liz Mellor as research assistants in a continuation of very exiting research into Music Composition as a cognitive creative process and its support of Music Education. The project is called iCompose and has strong ties to the Paynter Project; an outreaching appreciation for innovative and effective methods in Music Education.
Link to The Paynter Project Website:

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


Please check out my most recently released composition "Animus" available on Soundcloud

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Christopher Brooks Memorial Prize

I recently entered an application for the Lancashire Sinfonietta's annual award for young composers of the North West of England. The prize consists of a year-long residency, co-hosted by Live at LICA (Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts) and has already given a number of composers valuable experience and contacts to help launch their careers.

For my application I have entered 3 pieces, "Animus" (string orchestra), "Cold Fusion" (piano) are available on my Facebook and Souncloud and Finally "Chasm" hopefully soon to be performed by the Ligeti string quartet. 

The award will be announced in late March and the winner will begin a residency working with the chamber Orchestra.