Amble Skuse on Amble

To be working again with McFalls is a treat, more than a kid in a sweet shop (possibly more like a bull in a china shop?). I'm so looking forwards to hearing the gorgeous playing of Brian, Su-a and Rick again, and along with new faces Rosenna, Pippa and Ben, this will be a group of people who will make today truly special.

The first part of the day was spent translating and unpicking the score. Listening to the questions of the players, and learning how ideas could be made clearer; trying out several variations on an idea and then deciding how that could be notated for the players. Working with these talented players is such a joy, the ideas, sounds and senses leap off the page into an aural three dimensional space. My scoring can always be tighter, and getting feedback from the players is an integral part of learning this technique. It's communication tool which needs to be honed, so that my intentions are translated directly into action.

The second phase of the day commands much of my focus at the moment, and that is the dilemma around controlling electronics, whilst wanting to have free ears. I'm not too good a splitting my mind in half, half 'performing' and half 'reflecting'. I know some musicians who can do this, and admire them greatly. I spend much of the second and third sections of the day face down, ears open, sculpting the delays, reverbs, ensembles and sub bass responses coming out of Logic. The electronics shaping builds over time, gradually selecting the right levels for each aspect of the piece. Pippa offered her ears as a tool of reflection, and they were invaluable in the process. Pippa helped to pick out and refine the spaces and the momentum where they were needed.

Once these decisions have been made (or rather, whilst a very patient quartet play through relentlessly in order for them to be made), there comes the issue of how to mark the score, how to notate this. This raises the question of who will be performing these electronics. Much of my work hopes for electronics to 'play themselves', as performing is not something which sits comfortably with me. However, to fully realise live electronics and create something which has a sympathetic shape, which lives and breathes in the pocket of the performers, a live person is needed to create the 'live' electronics. So, I need to create some kind of document which allows me to communicate all the decisions we made today about the effects.

Tea time, found me with a bunch of coloured pencils, creating scribbles and scrawls over my score, to mark the effects, their levels and changes. These rough scribbles, combined with the performers scores, marked up with more specific instructions will give me a strong base with which to revisit the score and create something more useful, more tangible, something which speaks it's intention. They will enable this piece to live, outside of my mind, in the hands of other performers.

The development from morning to evening is a journey; through markings, techniques, experimentation, discussion, decision making, re-plotting, shaping, spacing, breathing, laughing, colouring, performing, recording and relistening we have created something.

A site

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