The New Music Collective met at Iklectik in London on 17 March, for a study day based on collaboration. A month before the event, the students were asked to work in pairs to produce new work to be presented on the day. Each student had to take part in the project both as a performer and composer, but they were able to choose how whether to write together or separately.
The students produced a range of pieces which demonstrated many different types of collaboration. Two brass players wrote a Theme and Variations on a well-known melody, which they played together but composed the variations separately. One of the pairs wrote individual pieces for each other to perform, after first establishing the kind of music, and challenges, each liked to have as performers. This meant that each was responsible for the interpretation and realisation of the other’s piece, and each person took on a specific role in the process. A third pair created a piece which they wrote and performed together, using their full performance resources; both sang, as well as playing an instrument. This piece was written in a semi-improvisatory style, meaning that they could react to each other’s interpretations in the live performance, as well as taking into account the limited rehearsal time available.
Lindsay’s recording of Ariadna’s Gymnopedie:
Each of the participants was asked to reflect on the process of collaboration, including issues such as how the compositional process was different as a result of working in this way, what problems were encountered along the way and what was learnt. They commented that many new skills were developed, even within this relatively short timeframe, including developing confidence with Sibelius, learning about new instruments, gaining a sense of how collaboration can inform and develop the creative process, and realising the importance of interpretation in performance.
This was a successful opportunity for students to have their works performed, and to engage with instrumentalists, and I hope this is something that can be developed further within the OCA. This was intended as a pilot project for something bigger; look out for announcements soon!
This was the first New Music Collective that I had attended. The day was stimulating, enjoyable and effectively focussed. The theme of the workshop was collaboration and this proved to be very fruitful over a wide range of musical activities. I had enjoyed preparing the composition project beforehand with my assigned partner, Anne, and this was the first time I had worked together with someone else to compose a piece. We settled upon a piece that had a mixture of free and fixed elements so that we could improvise over a ground bass when we came to perform the piece. As we had met for the first time it was in effect a first run-through. I had found it illuminating and enjoyable to write music in collaboration and to see what unfolded.
Meeting and working with other students and with tutors (and Carla was an excellent leader – supportive, friendly, but challenging us to think ‘outside the box) has increased my confidence and hopefully my knowledge and techniques and I do hope that I am able to attend another similar event in the future.
The pairing of students was very interesting and the work produced by each group demonstrated many of the benefits of the process of collaborations. My own experience was extremely enlightening.
Lindsey Berwyn Jones
Also published on Medium.