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Title: Folio of original compositions
Author: Alcorn, Michael
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 1993
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The works prepared for this folio represent seven years of focussed compositional activity, guided largely by the desire to shrug off the heavy mantle of influences and studied techniques which envelop many young composers, and by the necessity of finding an original voice in a society which so often suggests that there is very little left to say. This search has run parallel with a need to refine (and therefore define) my own compositional technique which has been brought to bear on the increasingly simple musical language to which I am attracted. The eight works (selected from twelve written during this period) utilize a wide variety of resources (both in terms of compositional techniques and in terms of performers and ensembles) and reveal many of the feature~~ which I regard as central to my compositional thinking: energy, movement, dramatic structure and climax. These attributes help create the goal orientated and mosaic-like structures that characterize the works of this period. Other features, of a musical nature, include a preoccupation with resonance and timbre, with lyricism (especially in later pieces) and with complexities arising from simple rhythmic procedures ('aleatoric counterpoint') or from manipulating simple units of duration. As will be seen in the commentaries, the titles of the pieces play a large part in the compositional processes and qualities of each work. In most cases they are descriptive of some musical or gestural process or event which is central to the piece. Three of the (recent) compositions in the portfolio employ electro-acoustic resources and thereby reflect my growing desire to integrate technology into my work. Although I have worked (and taught) in the studio for a number of years it has taken me a while to understand how such resources best suit my compositional needs. The clearest indication of this in the folio is the electroacoustic material devised for A Slow Dance. These (often simple) sounds were created using only one resource (Csound) and borrow many of the stylistic qualities of my instrumental music. This link with the instrumental music is a two- way process. Several of my pieces draw upon proce!;ses or techniques devised in the studio and apply them as structural, timbral or textural processes in the instrumental writing. Large sections of the orchestral piece Incantation borrow technological ideas - for example labyrinth (multiple two-track tape delays), delay line effects, and 'white noise' ('highest note possible' strings imitate this). Other pieces have even attempted to simulate the electrical processes at work in the studio; electrical states in circuits such as resistance, capacitance and the effect of components such as transfc,rmers and diodes finding musical analogies in early pieces (not included here).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available