Category Archives: Composition

Ear For The Surge

I was reading Homer’s The Iliad this morning

A great way to kick-start inspiration.

There’s around 15,000 lines of hexameter verse. Using repetition, branching, drifting and no two performances or hearings will ever be the same.

The use of sound and rhythm is something we improvisors thrive on.

I set myself a task to write some text.

Starting with six titles: Travel Advisory, Pandemic Corona, Coronavirus Update, Symptoms 2020, Keep Your Family Safe, and Coronavirus Advice.

These became six internet searches, using the browser, Brave.

Then, using the found text from each search, I was able to write three verses for each of the six titles.

Travel Advisory

See the world at a glance on our colour-coded map
Note that conditions can change rapidly
To receive updated travel advisories and alerts
The advisory is an extension of the Jan 23
Check the full advisory for further details
Is COVID-19 spreading where you're going

Avoid nonessential travel 
Frequently asked questions and answers
Resources for Airlines
Guidance for Airlines and Airline Crew
Resources for Ships
Communication Resources

Compare low prices
Book popular tours
Reserve tables
Current international Travel Warnings
Foreign governments implement strict restrictions
Fewer international transportation options are available

Pandemic Corona

Real-time counter, world map
Travel related restrictions, infection 
Novel strain virus, symptomatic
Severe respiratory disease, far and wide
Virus Corona, 
Spreading Flu-like, nationwide

CDC: Public Health Response
Spread of pandemic Covid-19
The Connecticut Department of Public Health
Transitioning to a new process
Daily collection of data
Hospitalisations and fatalities

Live now EarthCam Live
Times Square in 4K 
EarthCam 314 watching
For dedicated cyclists
Continuing to ride every day is a welcome respite
Advocates hope the surge will last

Coronavirus Update

Get the latest information 
Confirmed cases, infection history
Government response
People confirmed infected
People confirmed dead
Total recovered

Everything you need to know
Coronavirus outbreak has sickened half a million
Killed more than 1000
Death toll reaches 1,868
Click on each country for detailed statistics
World tries to slow its spread

United Kingdom: 201,101
World: 3,774,246
Coronavirus counter with new cases, deaths
And numbers of tests per 1 Million population
Historical data and info
Daily charts, graphs, news and updates

Symptoms 2020

Here are the signs, from mild to severe
Underlying medical conditions
Developing more serious conditions
Novel coronavirus, Covid-19
Heart, lung or diabetes
Symptoms such as dry cough and high fever

Coronavirus symptoms you may not be aware of
Malaise and dizziness
The letter F
An envelope
Stepping up efforts to tackle the new coronavirus
According to a study released Monday

Some of the nation's leading medical experts
First of all, just because you have these symptoms
We are learning more every day
The number of infections grows worldwide
Develop symptoms about five days after exposure
Colds generally do no result in serious health problems

Keep Your Family Safe

Keep your family safe
Keep your family safe
Keep your family safe
Keep your family safe
Safety is the Priority
Keep your family safe

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention
A clean household is one way to help keep COVID-19 at bay
Make sure you are keeping their mental health in check
This is an incredibly stressful time
Clean doorknobs, light switches & handrails daily
Pay special attention to cleaning the door handles

Everything you need to know to prepare for the outbreak
One of the best ways to slow or stop
Social distancing 
Separate people
Settings > Account > Family
Avoid touching face and cover coughs

Coronavirus Advice

Stay aware of the latest information 
Through your national and local public health authority
Most countries have seen cases
Many are experiencing outbreaks
Follow the advice of the local authorities
Minimise your risk of exposure to coronavirus

Advice for people at higher risk
Including older people
People with health conditions and pregnant women
Free, practical advice for the citizens of Scotland
Visa and passport advice (COVID-19)
Stay Connected

Guidance for British people travelling abroad
Specific precautions older people should take
Tailors advice for people
Find out how we are monitoring and responding 
Subscribe to alerts for consumers
Most up-to-date information

The texts are now being randomly collated, published in a branching and repeating fashion on Twitter. I love twitter bots!

Audio will be uploaded it to SoundCloud, Videos to YouTube, and commentary to WordPress

June 3rd Update

3 more texts are added to Ear For The Surge.

#BlackLivesMatter, #TheMovementForBlackLives, and #ViolenceCommitedOnBlackCommunities

Black Lives Matter

Human rights protest
Racial profiling, police brutality
Betterment of the African Americans
Incarceration is a way to destroy a community
T-shirts, clothing, apparel, posters and accessories
The aftermath of George Floyd's murder on May 25th

Tweeted over 30 million times
Black lives shattered
A global organization
Eradicate white supremacy
Educational, Social,
Financial and Spiritual.

Black humanity and dignity
We have a problem
There is a huge racism
Stand up Sundays
Keep everyone safe
Social justice

The Movement For Black Lives

Seeks to reach millions
Mobilize hundreds of thousands
Sustained and increasingly visible violence
Mission is to eradicate white supremacy
Build. Heal. Learn. Organise.
Enough is enough

Fighting for a Fundamental reordering of society
Free from systematic dehumanization
Collective vision
End state-sanctioned killings
Institutional oppressions
Build local power

Rooted in this wider Black Freedom Struggle
Non-violence is rooted
Coalition of over 50 black-led organizations
Free from sexism, misogyny, and male-centredness.
Cooperatives as a viable way
Opportunity to uplift.

Violence Inflicted On Black Communities

This violence left thousands dead
Deep trauma
A culture that tolerated gruesome lynchings
Tolerant of crime and violence
Ideological and political intervention
Black and blue, Blindspotting

Accept the cold hard truth about black culture
Embrace the differences and diversity
Chapter-based,
Member led.
Affiliations around the world
Long history of racial tension

The death of a black Minneapolis man
Latest tipping point
2.5 more likely to be killed by police
Black lives
Intentionally targeted
Prescription for a deeper, systemic issue.

The Claque In A Time Of Corona

The pandemic, the shock that has hit the health of our global community, has led to some drastic contractions of our economic processes and is also inspiring an expansion of our emotional practices. Like many artists I have experienced the cancellation of gigs and, seeing the diary empty out, has resulted in a couple of opposing personal responses.

One initial feeling is the immediate sharp intake of breath when considering the loss in earnings. But, and I think this more important to me at the moment, the other is a feeling of empathic and raw emotions in response to the human cost as the virus sweeps the globe.

Once I’d emerged from the initial panic and the locked-down feelings that induced me to organise my working from home, to help my students, and to sort my shopping and exercise arrangements for the household, I began to take stock. Although works that had been due for performances had been cancelled, they had still been completed. I’d still had the opportunity to work through their creative process and followed them through to a virtual realisation. Tale Of A Great Sham(e)Text was due to be performed at Sonorities in Belfast and, Mrs McNamara had been booked to appear in MOLI, with Bernard Clarke’s Scribbledehobble and Kaleidoscope.

There are also works that need to be written, works that will help me adjust to this moment in history and that will be in response to this crisis. These works started flowing after I’d organised the everyday coping strategies.

In the practice of immersing myself in the process of opening up to the emotional and economic feelings I was able to keep doing what I do best. I knew the only way I was to get through this time was to give myself permission for my brain to uncover pathways of empathic creation.

Social Media has been a grounding in reasoning and emotion for me. Reading articles shared from around the globe, learning about the virus, becoming aware of the people treating the sick and the people who have suffered, has become part of my routine. Reading and participating in the outpouring of community conversation has inspired and consumed my thoughts over the last 36 days. On the 5th April I began creating a graphic score The Claque In A Time Of Corona. It was my first work to emerge during the lockdown.

Graphic Score

During Christmas 2019 I received a gorgeous set of pencils and paper from my sister. She told me it was time to ignite my childhood love of sketching.



From these pencils, and the times we are in, a title appeared:

Then a series of instructions, directions for a virtual performance:

I started recording and processing sounds in response to the emotional pain of the news stories, the tragedy unfolding over the Social Media waves. The brain fog manifesting from the sounds of pain and fear, the heard and unheard responses to the pandemic, the noises of governments and corporatists who are controlling what we read and see. I began loading sounds into the game audio middleware, FMOD.

Then, in creating a game score project using the game development environment of Unity, I added materials, sound events and scripts to build the final browser version of The Claque In A Time Of Corona

This process is in progress, using iteration and creation to test the function of the score and sound work. Eventually I’d like this to be a game score, a graphic score to be available online. The performance can be facilitated using Zoom or Jitsu.

The work is not finished yet. I need time to reflect and process more. I’ll come back to it. This commentary is part of the process of reflection.

In the between time I started revisiting other works.

SFBookDraft1 is a collaboration with photographer and transmedia narrative artist, Kelly McErlean.

SFBookDraft1

A multi platform collaboration between Kelly McErlean and Claire Fitch.

Kelly has a set of 36 photographs dating from at trip to San Francisco in 1999. They are published on Flikr and are the inspiration for a set of 36 texts.

2, 1.
Four empty cable cars
3
Two turquoise baskets
Eight on the landing

Kelly recorded each of the 36 texts, sending me the raw audio files to edit and process into sound works. These are continuing to be published on SoundCloud and will form part of a 36 minute live improvisation.

Soundcloud

We’ve also set up a YouTube channel, that will host videos created from the photographs and improvisations of the audio.

Finally, there is a Twitter bot publishing the pictures, texts, videos and sounds. Please follow and share.

Meta Music, Audio Lego and Game Scores

I am a composer, I create using many mediums and many methods. Text, sound, code, graphics, soundscapes, requesting audience participation. We are all participating. So with this in mind, one of the easier ways to explain my interpretation of material, and specifically, sonic material, is as blocks, as ‘Audio Lego’, to build, copy, block, paste, and chop.

During my time working on the composition of various works for my practice based Ph.D. in Sonic Art at Queen’s University Belfast I remember thinking that some of the works were to be presented as linear media, designed to be broadcast on radio or performed in an installation setting. But, what about web presentation? Could it be a method to find new audiences? Could I create non-linear works by producing audio blocks, ‘audio lego’ that could be pieced together by the audience/participant in the online environment of a web browser.

This question led me to spend some time checking out the presentation practices of the Electronic Literature community. I discuss Electronic Literature in a previous post. FFDEAD (2013) was my first interactive work. I wrote a sonnet, recorded myself reciting the text, edited short fragments of audio files, and then developed the work in the game engine environment of Unity, writing scripts to control the behaviour of the audio files. I’ve included the link to the games score in the caption below the image and there is also a video available on YouTube. If you are accessing the game score the simply Left Click on the UI of the app. Every time you move the cursor it will trigger audio. If you leave the mouse still for long enough the work will return to silence.

There is an audio file uploaded to Soundcloud included below:

FFDEAD

On time! I thought I could sink old lace. 
It ran though my brain as a navajo-white.
Watching the memory hit the knowledge base
Was like witnessing a car hit a wall.

Stemming the flow was key to the trace,
Checking the system for a sprite in flight.
Finding the byte that was out of place,
Enabled that illusive conference call.

Here I am, in this imaginary place.
Watching, measuring, with geometric pace.
This is the moment with visible light,
So search it, find it, then reinstall.
Stop the run, take a seat, watch the show.
This is not the end, not by a long sight.

We Called It Dirt

I’ve been developing further audio works and game scores informed by the same ethic of producing blocks of sound to use in the game development environment of Unity. With each project I answered another compositional problem, progressing through the experience of completing works.  We Called it Dirt (2013) was developed after a collaboration with the wonderful Electronic Poet, Dr. Michael Maguire. The deal was that I tidy up the audio quality of the interviews and he would approve my use of a number of files for the purpose of creating a sonic art work. We both benefited greatly from the arrangement because the interviews with John Pat McNamara are excellent. My aim is to expand the interview, a simple one-to-one chat, to become a room full of virtual conversations.

I’ve included the link to the game score in the caption under the image, but there is also a video available on YouTube. If you choose to go to the game score presentation, the controls are the computer keys: W,E,C,A,L,D,I,T,R, and SPACE. Your performance results from the simple act of typing the letters WE CALLED IT DIRT. The audio files can be repeatedly sounded to build up a fractured texture and a virtual space in an attempt to create an endless web-based narrative.

Look (FFEBCD)

My next work, Look(FFEBCD) (2014), draws on the cut up technique of Christian Verdun, who follows the inspiration of the Burroughs Cut Up method. Look(FFEBCD) won the student prize at HearSay Festival in 2014. I had the help of nine wonderful participants who recorded a sonnet I wrote for the piece. Thanks to Brian Brennan, Robyn Bromfield, Brian Conniffe, Lynda Cosgrove, Dr. Eileen Leahy, Barry Low, Dr. Barbara Lueneburg and Marie McStay. The audio files are edited and imported into the game development of Unity. I then wrote a number of C# scripts designed to control the behaviour of the audio when the participant interacted with the computer keyboard. When creating this work I was inspired by N. Katherine Hayles “Language alone is no longer the distinctive characteristic of technologically developed societies; rather, it is language plus code” (Hayles 2005, 16).

I’ve included the link to the game score in the caption below the image and there is also a video available on YouTube. If you choose to access the game score presentation, the controls are the W,A,S,D, Arrow Keys, and SPACE. The SPACE key control will move the presentation between one of nine scenes. There are wide variations between the scenes and the work creates a work of web-based endless narrative.

There is also an audio file available on soundcloud included below:

Look, I'm sorry, I know it's beige.
It'll warm if you have time to gaze.
Think of it more as a blanched-almond,
Changing in hue with the light.

Try it now, up in hyperspace,
There's always the power given in backspace.
Trust the strength in its own understatement,
It'll sit with the line of sight.

This selection is straight from the database.
Fitting the dial and perfect in shortwave.
Alternative to the delicate hue
Is the thought that it will bring calm.
Giving out some gentle bright,
A glow that is good for the payment.

And The Birds Sang

And The Birds Sang (2016) is inspired by Cobra (1984) by John Zorn and Robert Morris Box with the Sound Of its Own Making (1961). I encourage the participant to listen and respond with their own interpretation of how the sound was produced for the soundtrack, and to improvise to the visuals displayed on-screen. And The Birds Sang has been performed by an Irish brass band, Drogheda Brass Band and a Swiss trio of synth, horn and cello called Retro Disco at Music Current in Dublin, 2019. I’ve included the link to the game score in the caption under the image. There is also a video on YouTube. If you choose to access the game score there is also a set of directions designed to be a reference for the score. The graphics I created are informed by Manuella Blackburns Sound Shapes and I produced icons that represent short onset attacks, repeated and buzzing articulations, among others.

http://www.fitchsounds.com/ATBS/atbs.html

The audio recording from Music Currents is included below:

Questioning The Elements

Questioning The Elements (2019) was commissioned and performed by SPIKE alternative cello festival in Dublin 2019, it was also performed live on RTE Radio One during Arena. My aim is to consider the sound-making elements of the cello and also, the methods used by the performer. I spent time creating reference sounds: bowing, scraping, knocking the cello at various points. I also asked for participants to record a couple of sentences describing their thoughts of the sound of the cello. Massive thanks to Mary Barnecutt, Anthony Fox, Martina Murray, Raven, Nicole Rourke, and Yue Tang for taking the time to record and send me your thoughts.

I’ve included the link the Game Score in the caption below the image, but there is also a video up on YouTube. If you choose to download the game score, please enjoy interpreting the sound shapes and text instructions on-screen. The computer keyboard also provides some extra possibilities, so test the keys, a lot of them will result in either hearing voices or moving the graphic icons.

The audio recording from the SPIKE performance is included below:

Tale Of A Great Sham(e)Text

Tale of a Great Sham(e)Text is an electronic text first inspired by the consideration of citizenship. I created a Twitter Bot, a SoundCloud account, and a Blog for this project, and eventually I will also be featuring podcasts alongside the game score. Check out the Blog because I will publish pages on pre-composition and on the continuing production. I’ve included the game score below and there is also a video version on YouTube. The instruments I envisage are Female voice(s), Brass Player(s), and Computer.

http://www.fitchsounds.com/TGS/TGS.html

I’ll continue to blog about other works and progress of new creations on this WordPress site. The process of developing a compositional workflow using techniques drawn from electroacoustic music and electronic literature continue to provide me with much inspiration and I will enjoy observing the directions the creations are going.

References

Hayles, N. Katherine. My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago, 2005.

Music Current

Music Current Festival

Currents

Retro Disco

13th April 2019

Smock Alley, Dublin

http://www.musiccurrent.ie/currents.html

I am thrilled to be taking part as a ‘participant composer’ in this wonderful festival.

Music Current is a contemporary music festival run by Dublin Sound Lab, offering audiences a showcase of contemporary Irish electronic music and new international repertoire, and includes a participation strand for composers to take part in masterclasses, discussion, collaborations and performances.

My work And The Birds Sang will be performed by Retro Disco at Currents on 13th April, Smock Alley, Dublin

Samuel Stoll – Horn

Moritz Mullenbach – Cello

Simone Keller – Synthesizer

One of the inspirations for And The Birds Sang draws on Gilles Deleuze’s discussion in Cinema I, of the movement of perception being between “two poles, objective and subjective” (Deleuze 1986, 71).

The work investigate the movement between our perception as performers and as audience members through the design and presentation of an electroacoustic work which can be performed and experienced in a wide variety of settings.

At Music Current the animated sound score of And The Birds Sang is visible to both the audience and performers. The horn, cello and synthesizer will investigate the sound-making potential of their instruments inspired by the combined visuals and soundtrack, the audience will perceive the work through the experience provided from hearing and seeing the animated score in combination with the performance of the ensemble.

The work is also available in the online environment of a web-browser and can be accessed at: http://www.fitchsounds.com/ATBS/atbs.html

http://www.musiccurrent.ie/currents.html

An audio recording from Music Current is included below