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Title: Portfolio of compositions and technical commentary
Author: Ashton, Kim
ISNI:       0000 0004 3681 1550
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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The eight compositions in this portfolio explore how dissimilar or contrasting musical materials can coexist. Rather than creating block forms my intention in general is to mediate between materials, maintaining a sense of musical narrative. At a local level this mediation takes the form of various kinds of transition or juxtaposition, while on a larger scale musical materials return transformed or in altered contexts, often giving rise to flexible ritornello forms. In LINES (for mixed quintet) opposing instrumental pairings rely on gesture and mode to set out contrasting territories, eventually leading to an uneasy truce in the closing processional. In AXIAL (for ensemble) delicate murmurings are interleaved with excursions into more vigorous territory; a kind of synthesis is achieved towards the end through layering. BLACK ASTRIDE AND BLINDING (for ensemble) is characterised by a vigorous and often densely thematic language, in which the use of ritornello is central. Transformed versions of the opening paragraph return obsessively, sometimes interrupted by interludes but often leading organically into new territory. A related process informs lunatic silver (for bassoon and piano), in which a recurrent harmonic field acts as a balancing force to periods of increased harmonic or rhythmic activity, while the field itself undergoes agitation and development. Sumwhyle wyth wodwos (for orchestra) involves binary oppositions, although as ever continuity is as important as rupture. The opposition set out at the beginning between thematic ambiguity and clear statement unfolds alongside a working out of the relationship between the prevailing 6/8 dance topics and more strident material. In DOTS (for recorder consort) the extremely homogenous sound of the ensemble provides a backdrop for an exploration of the relationship between the individual and the collective. A slightly different approach is in evidence in Ryokan Songs (for bass and piano), which sets aphoristic poetic gems by the Zen hermit. While each individual song does not feature strong contrasts, together they provide a multifaceted display of Zen practice – at once unified and diverse. The text by the Brazilian modernist Haroldo de Campos which is set in o lótus estala (for baritone and orchestra) is as direct as Ryokan’s poems but far more overtly dramatic. My setting follows the text as it explores the extremes of light and dark, reappearances of the opening’s luminous harmonies being interspersed with forays into thicker textures or darker sonorities.
Supervisor: Milstein, Silvina Raquel; Benjamin, George William Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available