Station wagon interior perspective (requiem for John Fahey)

Stillman, R. (2012) Station wagon interior perspective (requiem for John Fahey). [Composition]

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This composition’s title refers to a photograph of the piece’s dedicatee, the late guitarist, composer, and sound-artist John Fahey. The piece does not include any specific reference to Fahey’s own repertoire; rather, the composition investigates a more conceptual preoccupation that ran through his extensive, varied work; that is, the authentic integration of ‘vernacular’ styles of American folk and popular music into extended, through-composed forms.

Prioritizing interpretation as an inseparable component of vernacular musical language, this project explores how the expressive flexibility of solo folk music such as Fahey’s might be convincingly ‘mapped’ onto ensemble performance of notated music. Building upon ongoing practice-led research in solo multi-instrumental performance, this piece places the ‘one-man band’ of keyboard and foot-operated percussion within the context of an ensemble. The development of the music in rehearsal focused on how the physical gestures of the hands and feet of one-man band (both sound-producing and ancillary) could provide cues for the ensemble to negotiate, for example, non-metric tempo modulations (abrupt or gradual) and synchronized rhythmic nuance typical of both solo one-man band and Fahey’s guitar soli. By introducing such variety of rhythmic interpretation, synchronized across several musicians, the music seeks to maintain a sense of improvisation within the framework of through-composed music. This sense of ‘synchronized spontaneity’ was further enhanced in the production of the recording through double- and triple-tracking of performances (horns and percussion) based on the ‘template’ of an initial real-time recording of the work.

In addition to creating the sense of expressive freedom within notated structures, certain sections of the score are also left more ‘open’, giving space for musicians to ‘ad-lib’ upon given musical material or instructions. This approach, in contrast to the extended, improvised ‘solo’ sections typical of jazz compositions, seeks to incorporate musical independence while avoiding stark distinctions between improvised and composed material.

Item Type: Composition
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music > M0005 Instrumental music
Divisions: pre Nov-2014 > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Music
Depositing User: Mr Robert Stillman
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2016 16:12
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2016 16:12

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00