Archives de l’auteur : zubinkanga

Case Study: Orfordness by David Gorton

One major case study That I (Zubin Kanga) have written up for publication is my cooperation with British composer David Gorton. An upcoming book chapter, “Risky Business: Negotiating virtuosity in the establishment of collaborative Orfordness for solo piano,” will appear in the Music and / as Process book, published by Cambridge Scholars.

This book chapter explores the relationship between virtuosity, risk management and collaborative strategies in the establishment and performance of Gorton’s work Orfordness for solo piano Composed in cooperation with me. The work explored the use of new techniques, Requiring extreme levels of technical control and gestural control. Here the gestural control of these unusual techniques involves choreography as well as their precise timing around the electronics part, management of extremely dense textures and the schedule of movements across the keyboard in wide-spanning arpeggios. The research builds on the work of self-ethnographic Heyde / Fitch Clarke / Doffman / Lim, Östersjö and Roche, all of whom-have examined their own creative practices to explore Many different models of collaborative relationship. The qualitative frameworks of Risk Management (in standard use in engineering and scientific research) have not often before been applied to music, and Orfordness particularly provides a rich case study for exploring this connection. Risk of failure is a particular feature of virtuosic music, and of music particularly involving new extended techniques, without purpose Some risk, the excitement of virtuoso performance and the innovation of new approaches to the instrument can not be achieved. Thus Risk Management is not always concerned with reducing risk, but with maintaining a healthy balance between safety and danger, and between ease and resistance.

1st Orfordness

Formed of five movements, Orfordness uses declassified files and myths surrounding the eponymous website in Suffolk, to form military testing facility, to explore five different kinds of extreme virtuosity. The first movement, for example, “Evacuation of the Civil Population of Shingle Street, Suffolk,” uses extreme forms of conventional virtuosity, with rapid streams of marks at different speeds in both hands. In contrast, the second movement, “Cobra Mist”, explored the virtuosity required to play newly developed extended techniques with extreme technical control, in this case, combining e-bows and dulcimer hammers to explore a wide spectrum of colours Within a very narrow window of execution. The third movement, “You Can’t Tell the People” features extremely fast passages of multiple technologies inside the piano and on the keyboard, placed within gaps in the electronics portion that uses the dictaphone recording made ​​by a US Air Force control of a UFO encounter at the site, all requiring extremely precise choreography of gesture. The fourth movement “Blue Danube” is named after the first the nuclear weapon developed by the UK, which was tested at the site. It features running passages of single notes with wide leaps across the keyboard, requiring many choices to be made ​​in the distribution between hands and choreography across the keyboard. The final movement, “The Island”, is inspired by the landscape as it is now, featuring a range of techniques requiring extreme control and choreography (e-bows, harmonics and playing on the escapement mechanism of the keys).

3rd Orfordness

Documentation of the collaborative establishment of these passages allowed the negotiation of innovation, virtuosity and risk to be traced, with a range of strategies employed across the different movements, from free improvisation to develop material, to precise testing at multiple stages of composition. Significantly, the approach to gestural control in the context of virtuosity between widely varied movements, requiring constant negotiation and re-assessment.

Photo workshop

We intend this chapter to not only provide insights into the collaborative establishment of Orfordness , but also to provide tools for future Researchers, Demonstrating the inextricable relationship between risk, and pianistic virtuosity choreography and the many ways that risk provides a framework for understanding the innovation, both of new technologies and the extended expansion of virtuosic limits.

I have recorded Orfordness for recently released CD, David Gorton: Orfordness’. The CD is available online here

A video of the first performance of Orfordness at Kings Place, London, can be viewed here:

Inventing Gesture – A Research and Practice Study Day at IRCAM

On 8 June, GEMME will be presenting a symposium at IRCAM, Inventing Gesture as part of ManiFeste Festival. The focus will be on new approaches to gesture in contemporary music, and what we can learn about these by studying the collaboration process between composers and performers. In the creative development of works, gestural innovation is formulated, negotiated and refined, but it is only by documenting this creative process that we can understand the genesis of new approaches to gesture.  The use of technology to both augment the composition and allow the performer new methods of control, the integration of elements of theatre and dance and the exploration of new extended techniques will all be particular foci for the presentations.

The invited speakers include senior members of the GEMME research team from IRCAM and the University of Nice as well as leading researchers and artists from France, the UK, Australia and Sweden.

Composer, David Gorton (Royal Academy of Music, London) and Guitarist, Stefan Östersjö (Mälmo Academy of Music) will discuss their collaboration on Forlorn Hope for 11-string guitar, and their experimentation with extended techniques. The will also discuss their collaboration on the multimedia work Go to Hell, which uses movement data from  Rolf Riehm’s Toccata Orpheus for guitar to create the musical material. The presentation will feature a performance of Gorton’s Forlorn Hope.

Jean-François Trubert (University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis) will discuss Wilhelm Bruck’s collaborations with Maricio Kagel, exploring his insights into the composer’s integration of music and theatre in works such as Sonant and Zwei-Mann Orchester using extended interviews as well as sketches, film and photographic documentation.

Neil Heyde (Royal Academy of Music, London) will discuss quartets by Ligeti and Stravinsky that feature choreography of a string quartet, before moving on to discuss the approaches of several contemporary cellists to the demands of choreographing their performances. The presentation will feature a performance of David Gorton’s Capriccio.

ManiFeste-featured composer Jesper Nordin (Sweden) will discuss his collaboration with conductor, Marc Desmons (France) on a new concerto for conductor, Sculpting the Air, to be performed with Ensemble TM+. The work harnesses the gestures of the conductor, using hanging percussion as we all live electronics. Nordic will also discuss his development of several gesture-controlled electronic instruments

Lauren Redhead (Christ Church Canterbury University) will use the semiotic methods of Nicholas Bourriaud to analyse several graphic notation and text-based works for organ that she performs, discussing how gesture functions as a key link between notation, performance and sound.

Zubin Kanga (University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis) will discuss three recent works for piano and live electronics that use technology to find new approaches to gesture on and around the piano. Works by Stefan Prins, Ben Carey and Patrick Nunn will feature, with video documentation used to explore his collaborations with each of the composers. The presentation will feature a performance of Patrick Nunn’s Morphosis.

Finally, Nicolas Donin (IRCAM) and Michelle Magalhaes (IRCAM) will explore several gesturally innovative collaborations featuring a solo string player. Collaborations between composer, Georges Aperghis and double-bassist, Uli Fusseneger, and between composer, Franck Bedrossian and cellist, Séverine Ballon will be featured and contrasted with historical models of collaboration.

The symposium will conclude with a roundtable discussion on gestural innovation and collaboration. Further information can be found here: