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Title: Portfolio of original compositions with written commentary
Author: Thurley, Oliver William Marshall
ISNI:       0000 0004 5990 1196
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2016
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This project documents the development of my recent compositional practice, a selection of which is presented in the accompanying portfolio. Through this commentary, the work is discussed in relation to a central theme: the figure of musical fragility, and its significance to my recent practice and surrounding musical thinking. Fragility is presented as a nebulous aesthetic concept, and a lens through which to examine elements of instability, vulnerability and tension between limits as they occur in various forms throughout my music. The compositions included in this portfolio therefore each exhibit some form of fragility as a moment of tension between that which is held delicately in cohesion, and the point at which it collapses into noise or silence. The compositions broadly operate within the context of instrumental contemporary classical music and the music of John Cage, Iannis Xenakis and late-period Luigi Nono, with a specific focus on stasis and quietness as found in minimal and drone-based musics. The music of Jakob Ullmann is also examined both as a proponent of features I deem to be fragile, and as an influence upon my compositional development. The research methodology for this project follows a reflexive framework: the composition of a work raises questions or problems which are then used to shape the next work, assessing its subsequent outcomes and so on. Particular attention is given to discussion of the development of my various notational practices, both in its technical relation to fragility, but also as a compositional process. This commentary does not attempt to say emphatically what fragility is, but rather, follow what fragility is doing and how it manifests throughout my recent compositions. The three most prominent themes I have identified are used as a means to navigate the discussion in each chapter: fragility in performance, fragility of form, and fragility as quietness.
Supervisor: Stefani, Ewan ; Spencer, Mic Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available