Spring postgraduate forum report

Posted on 13 March 2017

2017's spring postgraduate forum, held on the 2nd March 2017 in the Music Research Centre, explored a wide range of topics and issues and touched upon diverse and fascinating areas of research.

Morning sessions at the forum included papers on collaboration and composition: Ben Eyes and Beau Stocker discussed their experiences of working together on improvised music and mixed media projects with diverse technologies including custom written software; Karin de Fleyt and Jia Chai shared insights into their pre-study for a Terry Holmes Award commission (to be premiered on June 9th 2017), searching for modes involving new microtonal forms of expression.

Beau also introduced his research into Sudanese rhythms and looping technologies, while Neil Luck deconstructed and disrupted traditional production, showcasing vertiginous patchworks of self-reflexive and self-referential play in recent multimedia works.

Michele Pizzi’s composition seminar, based around his work Fricatives, was a whirlwind tour of tools the composer has developed through and for the manipulation of recorded vowels and consonants, creating filters and modifications to distort and enhance sounds. Technical material was helpfully explained in a clear presentation, and the aural familiarity of extended vowel sounds helped to anchor our perception of the results of Michele’s work, in turn making it accessible.

Twentieth century musicology and issues of race and nationalism were addressed in parallel papers sessions. Jiaqi Luo spoke about Kenneth Leighton, who is often pigeonholed as primarily a choral/church music composer but whose output includes a wider range of genres including some engaging keyboard works.


Jiaqi Luo speaking about Kenneth Leighton

Focusing on the concept of a journey, Owen Burton delved into the multilayered interplay between cohesion and division in symphonic works by Einojuhaani Rautavaara.

Ayat Al Mata’Ni discussed Mozart’s Orientalism, while Samantha Holland highlighted the kind of ‘balancing act’ performed by Florence Price in her position as an African-American woman writing Western classical music for mixed audiences in the twentieth century through readings of Price’s extraordinary Piano Sonata in E minor, which Samantha performed for us.

Live demonstrations were also central to John Marley’s introduction to the underrecognised Monk Montgomery, the first jazz bassist to record anything at all, as well as the first to release an album with jazz bass as lead instrument.


John Marley on revolutionary bassist Monk Montgomery

A rich and varied collaborative lecture recital slot by Carmen Troncoso (electroacoustic recorder), featuring sound artist Lynette Quek and composer Desmond Clarke, outlined new technical and timbral possibilities of the modifed electroacoustic modern alto recorder; explored the role of the sound artist (not a composer, not a performer, not an engineer…?); and explained the background to the two new collaborative works we heard: RECORDARI (with Lynette)and Oiseaux métamorphiques (with Desmond).


Lecture-recital by Carmen Troncoso in collaboration with sound artist Lynette Quek and composer Desmond Clarke

The recently formed York Music Psychology Group (part of the Music, Science, and Technology Research Cluster) was represented by Mimi O’Neill, who walked us through her (literally) practice-based research with the aid of familiar children’s book characters to give us a way in to some involved theory.

Tweet from @Neilluck about the forum: "Super bunch of papers @Music_at_York today. Some mindbogglingly interesting stuff #pgf17"

Please join us for the next forum in autumn term - the call for papers will be sent in summer.