FERGAL DOWLING – COMPOSER
Stops VIII (piano and computer), 2014
This recording 19/5/2016, AIC 'Directions' concert series, Lutheran Hall, Dublin. David Bremner, piano
Stops VIII is part of a series of compositions for instrumentalist and computer, which aim – at least partially – to rebalance the otherwise independent roles of performer and composer between the instrumentalist and the computer operator. The composition takes the form of a computer-based strategy which the player explores by ‘sounding out’ the relationship. Details of the sounded performance are automatically recognized and recorded by the computer; as the performance continues, more sound-events are detected and recorded, and subsequent events trigger playback of previously recorded cues. Thus the performer can control the rate and detail of the unfolding of the route through the musical material. In effect, the final sounded material is not fully determined; instead, it is the relationship between the performer and the computer which is composed, and it becomes the performer’s role to navigate and explain that relationship.
This work shares musical objectives as well as formal and stylistic features with other works in the 'Stops' series: the sounded material is always produced in the performance space in real time – there are no prerecorded materials; the sounds are not processed or treated in any way; decisions on what and when to record occur during performance time, and are based on details of the on-going performance. These processes results in extensive direct quotation of the actual performance, creating sequential repetitions, layerings and frequent elisions, interruptions and re-orderings of the temporal flow. Together, these reveal self-referential, concentrated musical arguments and an evolving formal relationship between the performer, the computer (operator), the material, and its context.