Research Colloquium: Fractal ideals in a Musical ‘real’

The speaker is Dr Scott McLaughlin (University of Leeds).

My practice-research develops compositional strategies for balancing human and material agencies: that is, avoiding the traditional paradigm of a performer ‘controlling’ the instrument, and instead asking the performer to ‘support’ the emergent sound of what the instrument wants .

This is done by composing with zones of sound production where pitch is indeterminate, often contingent on variables that are on the edge of what a human performer can control: for example, very low breath pressure using altissimo clarinet fingerings can produce a high tone or a low tone or both; objects inserted in string instruments can destabilise pitch to produce many possible outcomes. In such zones of instability, there are is a continuum of stable and unstable behaviours, which is useful for compositional strategies.

This talk will focus on the fractal ‘cracks’ in these unstable zones—where performer focus can reveal multiple layers of different sound behaviours—and also the practical realities and limitations on this.