From ‘Nothing’ to ‘Something’: a compositional evolution through time, media and space

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O'Brien, Mary Geraldine
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University College Cork
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This thesis shows the progression of my compositional work as I explored the concepts of time, media and space. It demonstrates how my methodological process has evolved from the idea of a ‘Nothing’ which becomes a ‘Something’; an exploration of the intermediary area delimited by the formulation of an initial idea, on the one hand, and a completed work on the other. The inspiration for this work emerged from observations of selected soundscapes recorded in woods, zoos, lakes and beaches. At the same time, I also began reviewing the literature of authors such as Pauline Oliveros, John Cage, Michael Nyman, David Toop, R. Murray Schafer and Bernie Krause. The notion of ‘silence’ and the basics of Zazen were also explored. A parallel element to this work involved identifying ways to disseminate these findings to the general public and to performers (choral groups, string quartets and solo performers), using both conventional music notation and graphic scores to enhance this process. Other aspects of my work included rethinking the concepts of rhythm and pitch, as well as the observation of one note evolving over time. Animation, the use of photography, video and pre-recorded audio all became an integral part of my compositional language. I planned regular encounters with nature, negotiated black and white, as well as observing how light affects particular soundscapes, and how manmade lights can transform a space. Camera manipulation, layering textures and the use of technology also played a significant part in formulating the final product.
Composition , Music , Art , Photography , Animation , Video , Nothing , Something , Cage, John
O'Brien, M. G. 2017. From ‘Nothing’ to ‘Something’: a compositional evolution through time, media and space. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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