The Spring/Summer 2023 seminars will be presented in a mix of online and in-person.
25 Jan 2023, online
Music For Rishi…
Our Prime Minister has decided that the main problem with our education is that we stop learning maths at 16. It just so happens that I’ve been developing a piece of music software that turns a simple musical maths technique into a generative musical tool. Come and hear about The IsoRhythmic Step Sequencer as well as the technique of Isorhythm. There will be musical examples, audience participation and a few diagrams. Rishi will be delighted.
13 Feb 2023, online
Zoi Dimitriou and Sam Hayden
in conversation on the making of
Funky Turn and/or Legally Live (2021), by Zoi Dimitriou
In this research seminar I shall be unpicking methods of practice and collaborative approaches to the making of Funky Turn and/or Legally Live, which premiered at the online edition of the international Arc For Dance Festival, in May 2021.
Funky Turn and/or Legally Live adopts a media epistemology and supports the view that the artwork in the era of technical reproduction cannot escape the socio-economic technological sovereignty that determines its aesthetic dimension. With sampling technologies and digital techniques, the smallest detail/gesture can assume a life of its own and become the basis for the birth of ever more new iterations and reverberations. What is the place of origin and how can we, if at all, keep track of the many travels and echoes in the future? Within the fast-changing pace of our world’s imaginary, I am interested in slowing down and amplifying the detail as I follow it on a path that legitimises its persistence as much as speak of the desire for a return to a perhaps lost future. Influences for the development of this work have been notions of liveness in mediatised performance and the philosophical concept of hauntology as introduced through the writings of Mark Fischer.
08 Mar 2023, in-person: Lecture Theatre, Laban Building
Further information to follow.
15 Mar 2023, in-person: Lecture Theatre, Laban Building
Lizzi Kew Ross
The connections between notions of time and place and poetic image making in reference to the poetry of Seamus Heaney and the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, with consideration of my site-specific choreographic work
For three months last year I was the Ruth Etchells Fellow at St Johns College, Durham University.
This gave me an opportunity to research into why these two artists, Seamus Heaney and Andrei Tarkovsky, have been significant in my work as a choreographer. During this time, there were performances of Stations of the Crossing in Durham Cathedral at Easter. This work was developed from previous collaborations with the video artist Mark Dean over the last five years, which have included performances in St Paul’s Cathedral and St Stephen Walbrook, and two productions here in the Laban Theatre.
The lecture is followed by the opening of an exhibition in the
Laban Theatre Bar from 18.30 to 20.00:
Process | Rehearsal | Performance
Mark Dean / Lizzi Kew Ross & Co
15 Mar – 6 Apr 2023
Laban Theatre Bar
Three videos by Mark Dean, working in collaboration with Lizzi Kew Ross & Co, that together convey the energy of interdisciplinary art practice.
Ne me touche Pas de trois combines three iterations of a devising improvisation by Lizzi Kew Ross & Co in their first gathering since lockdown, still under conditions of social distance.
Dance City of God layers footage of Lizzi Kew Ross & Co rehearsing Stations of the Crossing in Newcastle with constituent video works drawn from Mark Dean’s Stations of the Cross.
Stations of the Crossing is a documentary video produced from two performances of the resulting work as presented in Durham Cathedral.
10 May 2023, online
Words, Voice, Movement: language as a choreographic source
Further information to follow.
17 May 2023, in-person: Peacock Room, King Charles Court
Counter point as a freeing device
Further information to follow.
16 Mar 2022
Prof Sophie Fuller
My amateur shell’: women creating music and professionalism at the end of the 19th century
In this seminar, I will explore the ways in which women creating music in late 19th-century Britain navigated the expectation that they were working as amateurs rather than professionals.
What did the term ‘professional’ mean at that time for anyone whose creative expression was through composition? This was a time when women were fighting their way into established professions such as engineering, law and medicine. In musical composition, was professionalism a question of earning money, critical recognition, publishing work, moving in establishment circles, receiving high-profile performances or prestigious commissions?
By telling the stories of composers such as Rosalind Ellicott (1857-1924), Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) or Maude Valérie White (1855-1937), I will demonstrate that distinctions between the amateur and the professional composer are hard to establish and that boundaries between professional and amateur worlds were frequently blurred and confused.
By emerging from her ‘amateur shell’, was White making a bold and disruptive move away from the protection of an expected but belittling status?
30 Mar 2022
Prof Sam Hayden
Computer-assisted composition and the recent works of Sam Hayden
I am currently in the process of recording a new album of solo and duo works for Divine Art Recordings and will discuss some of the works that will be included on this album (including attente (2018-19) for solo flute and remnants III (2021) for cello and piano). All my recent works continue my interest in computer-assisted composition using IRCAM’s OpenMusic, combing algorithmic and ‘spectralist’ approaches to composition. I will show how I use OM to generate underlying duration structures and their rhythmical subdivisions, and transformations between synthetic 12TET or 24TET microtonal scales and more overtone-based pitch structures. I always regard such computer-generated structures as starting points, or ‘found objects’, for further elaboration rather than being ends in themselves. I will show how such initial rhythmical and pitch materials are combined by the computer algorithmically during a highly formalised ‘pre-compositional’ stage before being overwritten to a great extent during a later much more intuitive compositional stage. In particular, this ‘overwriting’ is often achieved through an extensive use of instrument-specific techniques such as multiphonics, overtone harmonics and other such ‘spectral’ sounds, in-between pitch and noise. Fundamental to my formal conceptions are the tensions between such sonic instabilities and the rationalised computer-mediated structures.
27 Apr 2022
Prof Dominic Murcott
A bit of a Song and Dance!
I’m in the early stages of composing a new album for the nonclassical label. The starting point is to force three unlikely musical styles together to try and make something that is unified and coherent. One of the elements is Colombian Cumbia, an infectious dance music that is itself a fusion of three distinct cultural identities. The process is producing a few demanding questions: will I be guilty of cultural appropriation? Just because one aspect of this project is a dance style, does this hold any interest for contemporary dancers? What audience is this aimed at?
Join me for some great musical examples and (hopefully) an entertaining discussion about the project.
4 May 2022
Prof Jonathan Clark
Some applications of Phenomenology to Arts and Aesthetics
My research work in the last ten years has focussed on using the insights of both classical phenomenology, and its contemporary variants, to shed light on various problems in aesthetics, art history and the philosophy of history, as well as work within the disciplines of music and dance. This inaugural lecture will draw some broad themes from this totality of research work, and explain some recent developments that I am exploring that involve pursuing this method further, namely: some aspects of image consciousness; the question of whether artificial intelligence can make art; an approach to the fundamental definitional problem in aesthetics- what is the distinction between art and non-art?
18 May 2022
Dr Dario van Gammeren
On a Political Note: Cultural Policy Making and Orchestral Repertoire in the Nazi-Occupied Netherlands
Dutch cultural politics in the 1930s were plagued by funding cuts, drawing strong criticism from artists who suffered through considerable hardship. Following the Dutch capitulation in May 1940, the German occupying forces, aware of art’s potential to drive social change, acted on this discontent in their campaign to sway the Dutch in favour of National Socialism. By way of a comparative study of orchestral repertoire and programming in the interwar and occupied Netherlands, this seminar assesses the impact of cultural policy making under German occupation on the transformation of the Dutch orchestral landscape.
15 Jun 2022
Dr Rebecca Stancliffe
Meeting (on) Zoom, Dancing Online
During the COVID-19 pandemic, performing arts activities moved from studios and practice rooms into people’s homes with the adoption of video conferencing platforms. Digital tools such as Zoom, which were adopted for delivery end engagement at an unprecedented pace, present an unfamiliar associated technical milieu that undeniably influences practice and challenges the traditional/typical co-presence at the heart of performing arts experience.
Drawing from 14 semi-structured interviews conducted with Higher Education dance faculty and class accompanists, this seminar presents preliminary findings of postphenomenological research that explores the human-technology relations at play in online delivery.
10 Feb 2021
Liveness in a Pandemic
This essay will begin with a brief critical exposition of the theory of “liveness” given by Philip Auslander. Of note is the way that Auslander considers the categories of “live” and “recorded” as not oppositional , but co-dependent and symbiotically related. This relation has formed a type of historical dialectic that has evolved following various types of societal and technological change. Having said this, Auslander’s text arguably needs updating into the era of the internet and performance streaming, and also of course in relation to the more contemporaneous situation of the Covid-19 pandemic. Auslander’s ideas and methodologies are insufficient for the present moment, something which the chapter will aim to partly rectify.
Accordingly, I will argue that Auslander’s historical dialectic is currently undergoing and important new mutation, and I will explain this in a twofold sense, which involves both ontological and epistemological re-evaluations of the concept of “liveness” itself. On the former, I will interrogate what, in relation to a number of recent examples of pandemic and lockdown performances, constitutes the essence of “live” in 2020, especially regarding the proliferation of live-streamed events that are billed as “live” even if they have no audiences. These examples will include lockdown performances by Marina Abramović, Eugenio Ampudia, Anoushka Shankar, and Wayne McGregor. Using a phenomenological methodology that I have used in other recent work, I will examine how the concept of “co-presence’, which comes to us from Husserl, can be used to classify these various iterations of what we might call the new “Pandemic Live”. This concept is important in relation both to the perception of objects and also to the direct social perception of embodied others, and forms in addition a foundation for studying the related phenomena of intersubjectivity and intercorporeality (Merleau-Ponty). It will be argued that lockdown performances involve quite different manifestations of these phenomena than more traditional models of performance. On the epistemological level, I also argue that we need now to interrogate how the difference between “live” and “not-live” is importantly connected with the question of how certain beliefs about liveness arise, and how these affect the nature of the experience we have of certain lockdown performances.
17 Feb 2021
Emma Redding and Liliana S Araújo
The motivational and emotional impact of Covid-19 pandemic: Students and teachers’ experiences in music and dance training.
A cross-faculty research team of staff and students at Trinity Laban investigated the psychological impact of virtual learning and teaching on higher education experience within the performing arts as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this seminar we will provide an overview of key findings and possible avenues for action in HE performing arts contexts.
17 Mar 2021
Sam Hayden and Mieko Kanno (Sibelius Academy University of the Arts Helsinki)
Nexus: Live Notation as a Hybrid Composition and Performance Tool
The NEXUS live notation system, the latest product of the Hayden (composer/programming) and Kanno (solo violin) collaboration, contrasts with their previous projects which utilised live Digital Signal Processing and sound synthesis. As with previous Hayden-Kanno projects, the main goal is the real-time generation of a musical work during the performance, which is fluid and spontaneous, both in its global form and specifics of detail, yet maintains a sonic consistency and coherence, in this case existing in the symbolic domain as music notation. This presentation will outline the main functions of the Max-based system, how Guido Music Notation code is generated for rendering as Common Practice Notation during the performance. We will also discuss the performer’s Graphical User Interface which constrains the stochastic processes underlying the generation of specific musical parameters, general textual characteristics, and global formal shaping. The implications of performer reading and interpretation for system design are also explored. The challenge was to formalise Hayden’s compositional procedures so that the generated notations retain enough musical identity and interest, whilst leaving space for Kanno’s interpretative decisions and being technically simple enough to be sight-readable. The presentation will include a practical demonstration of the system and discuss some directions for future development.
24 Mar 2021
(Re)Conceptualising Western Art Music Performance Practices as “Acts of Play”
Music is played, but whilst the terminology of ‘play’ is used there is evidence that much conservatoire studio teaching in music is far from playful, but is instead rooted in behaviourist traditions of subject-centred transfer pedagogies (Burwell, 2012; Carey et al., 2013; Daniel & Parkes, 2017, 2019; Garnett, 2013; Gaunt, 2008, 2011; Nerland, 2007; Simones, 2017). This paper looks at professional music-making practices through the lens of play theory in order to help inform higher music education studio teaching and studio teacher education.
There is a substantial literature base on music play in early-years, playground, improvisation and digital contexts, but despite the ‘performative turn‘ (Cook, 2013) in musicology refocussing the academy’s attention on acts of music-making, there has not been significant investigation of the relationships mainstream western art music practices have with play. In the play literature, music is often mentioned as one of many related cultural behaviours, but with little attention to the specific properties, forms and roles of music play.
The study is based on semi-structured interviews of internationally-recognised virtuoso soloists, and autoethnographic narratives of the presenter, an experienced orchestral musician. It explores the characteristics, affordances and inhibitors of a playful musicianship and provides evidence of the ways in which professional music-making can be (re)conceptualised not just as playful, but as ‘acts of play’. Inspired by the evidence of culture as the societal manifestation of the play instinct (Caillois, 1961; Henricks, 2015; Huizinga, 2016; Sutton-smith, 2001; van Oers, 2012), this is an ontological re-examination of how an enactive, embodied musical cognition (Matyja & Schiavio, 2013; van der Schyff, 2015; van der Schyff, Schiavio, & Elliott, 2016) can be conceptualised as part of the spectrum of adult play behaviours, and how higher music education might best support studio teachers to develop pedagogies of play.
21 Apr 2021
“The Display of the Living” Recitative in Syllable
“So it happens, therefore in the world of matter . . . solid things, that every element says something. But one must perhaps make an exception for carbon, as it says—because carbon says—everything to everyone. It is not specific, in the way—in the same way—that Adam is not specific to anyone, uniquely as an ancestor.”
― Primo Levi
In January 2022, in partnership with Decipherer Arts Projects, Trinity Laban will premiere Syllable—an operatic sonic theatre work. The project is a collaboration between TL’s Opera Studies and a team of professional industry artists: a rich vocabulary of shifting projections from Akhila Krishnan (59 Productions/ENO/Met Opera), set within an evocative world by designer Molly Einchcomb (National Theatre/Bristol Old Vic) with direction from Joseph Alford (Theatre O/Royal Danish Opera Academy/Bolshoi Theatre/Festival d’Aix en Provence). Syllable’s aural design will be delivered by David Sheppard (Sound Intermedia), with integrated layering between recorded narration and vocal soloists.
In place of a more-conventional recitative storytelling, the experimental performance collective Bastard Assignments, tell the drama as recorded commentary. The opera is therefore conveyed by an interaction between prerecorded voiceover and stage characters who appear again and again. This combination of main and marginal action—the conversation between foreground and background—is fixed throughout the opera’s music, its movement, through its projection approach and through the shifting set design.
This ‘in development’ presentation will focus on the conversation aspect of Syllable, where the sense of aural layering (underscoring and prompts) and character behaviour, pleasantly obscures what is substantial and what is trivial.
28 Apr 2021
Tomas Challenger (Trinity Laban PhD candidate)
‘Dynamic Notations in an Improvised Practice’
This talk and performance/demonstration will focus on an area of my research that concerns itself with developing notation for the preparation I do as an improviser. The notations explore ideas that reconfigure various qualities of parts that contribute to my practice. Here I will focus upon the instrumental surface that I use: The Saxophone.
I embarked upon my research with a simple outlook that focussed upon the location of approaches that might unearth new sonic and methodological detail in order to further my work as an improviser. Since then, I have developed a number of works that explore ideas of improvised and structured curatorship alongside instrumental de-coupling.
By creating notations that are primarily for myself and for preparation, I have highlighted various configurations that provide a lens upon the links between actors within my practice, for example the relations between composition/improvisation, instrument/body and preparation/performance. As a ‘fuzziness’ between their distinctions begin to emerge in activity, I have used Tim Ingold’s notions of ‘correspondence’ to help develop further awareness of these ongoing relationships. As a result, I will expand upon the emergence of a separate actor, ‘The Carrier’ that is not reducible to either notation, instrument or improvisation. Instead, it concerns itself as an agent of the in-between, picking up parts of the practice that result from its particular situatedness.
Today, I will discuss how my work ’T-R’ (2020) which re-configures the instrumental surface, acts as a ‘dynamic’ notated surface, where its visual ‘determinations’ are also actively re-configured whilst being at play with other actors in the en-acted assemblage. Various aspects of its notation encourage myself, as an improviser, to place my physical self upon the instrumental surface in a way that approximates different levels of breaking (or dis-repair), where the saxophone is configured in a way that has not been traditionally approached. As such, by attempting various reflexive actions, the material agency of the instrument is foregrounded, in sympathy with my physicality and environment.
By providing an introduction to the work I do as a solo improviser, I will show how my work encourages the creative investigation of the space that is placed between ‘the known‘ and the ‘un-known’. Crucially, I am not proposing a departure from the methodologies and cultures that help define improvising traditions, especially Jazz. Rather I make the case for what is an ultimately additive approach to an improvised practice, focused upon the maintenance of (an albeit ‘leaky’) reservoir of knowledge.
5 May 2021
Cashing In or Selling Out?: Musings on a commercial art project
Being highly paid to create art might be the goal for any composer, but it is an elite few who reap substantial financial rewards while retaining artistic control. Anecdotal evidence, supported by a 2015 Sound and Music survey, suggests that the majority of UK composers who call themselves artists, actually earn a small percentage of their income, if anything at all, from their art. Commercial music is another matter: the primary difference being that success is measured in part by financial gain, and artistic quality is ultimately defined by the commissioner.
This seminar is a report on a project that I undertook for an advertising agency on behalf of a large company (who cannot currently be named!). I was invited to take part specifically because of my interests in esoteric sound and visual relationships and non-linear programming software, but had to find a way to create something that would appeal to a group who appreciate innovation only if it produces familiar results. I invited composer John Lely to join me in the process and will present a piece of interactive software that we designed to fulfil the commission.
As someone who has limited experience of commercial composition, this work has led me to re-evaluate some youthful ideologies and question the nature of artistic satisfaction as well as the issue of dissemination of practice as research.
9 Jun 2021
Contractions, Cries, and COVID:
The Traumatic Soundscapes of Lockdown UK Hospital Maternity Wards
Modern delivery and maternity wards present numerous human and technological sounds, but the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent global lockdown of hospitals in 2020 has variegated these soundscapes. While beeps and blips of medical equipment – and certainly, the cries of babies – remain, patients and staff have largely been silenced. The barrier of face masks stifles – both literally and figuratively – personal exchange, and the anticipated joyful conversations of visiting family and friends have been absent as mothers and babies spent their first days together alone, alienated.
This paper explores how new mothers during the time of COVID have harnessed technology to mitigate and re-exert control over the traumatic soundscapes of lockdown delivery and maternity. Music streaming, messaging, and video calls have helped to ameliorate the traumas of labour and/or surgery and the experience of forced separation from family and friends, as well as to silence pervasive medical technologies and the sounds of distress of other patients in situations of shared wards. I draw upon my own experience of giving birth in a London hospital in June 2020, and after developing preeclampsia, the subsequent week of feeling imprisoned within a maternity ward’s soundscape. In addition to drawing upon my observations of fellow patients, I consider accounts of lockdown maternity and birth shared on social media (from Instagram to #butnotmaternity on Twitter), and the healing communities that have been built online. I frame such testimonies using pain theory by Elaine Scarry and Joanna Bourke, and trauma theory by Judith Herman. Hospital sounds and patients’ use of sound technologies will then be further discussed in relation to Steven Goodman’s theory of sonic assault, and Marie Thompson’s concept of “reproductive sound technologies.” The use of and manipulation of sound technologies in these shared wards, I contend, corresponds to Deleuze’s observation of a shift from a form-imposing to a self-regulating mode of power, which he terms as shift from “molding” to “modulation.”
In addition to establishing intersections of trauma and soundscapes of lockdown delivery and maternity wards, this paper proposes new ways for understanding how women’s birth experiences have been silenced – not only through a silencing imposed by COVID restrictions, but also through the ways that women, even in shared spaces, can silence each other.
23 Jun 2021
‘Provoked City’- A commission from Crash Ensemble to the Covid 19 Pandemic
Crash Ensemble approached me halfway through the first lockdown to commission a duo as part of their ‘Reactions Series’, which was filmed in November 2020 during the period of second lockdown. ‘Provoked City’, for cello and double bass explores the nature of composing during this strained period in all our lives. In my presentation I will delve into the diaries, the sound collections, visual art and poetry that I created, which inspired this cathartic work.
The Research Seminar with Frances Clarke, originally scheduled for this series, will now take place next year, in 2021-22.
Parallax is the Trinity Laban staff and Creative Practice research student showcase series.
Parallax 15 – Performance in a Pandemic
Fri 28 May 2021, 11.00-17.30
Curated by Prof Jonathan Owen Clark, Maya-Leigh Rosenwasser and Irene Fiordilino
A one-day online Research Symposium to collectively discuss and reflect upon the profound impact that the unusual circumstances of the past twelve months have had on artistic practice and research.
Download the programme pdf.
Please contact the Research Administrator, Angela Kerkhoff, with any questions.
Parallax 14 – Craft and Art Symposium
Wed 12 February 2020, 09.30 – 17.00
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
A one-day symposium curated by
Zoi Dimitriou and Jonathan Owen Clark
What is the relation between craft and the performing arts? What are the socio-political connotations these relations hold today and how do these challenge, redirect and nourish artistic, curatorial, pedagogical and social practices?
Craftmanship as an intimate working with materials and their transformation has recently been drawing attention in both the artistic and academic milieu. Notions of repetition, persistence, resistance, foresight and ‘following the materials’ are but some of our anchoring focal points. One line of theoretical inquiry can be traced through the work of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, who suggest that to ‘follow the materials’ is to think from the materials – to find ‘the consciousness or thought of the matter-flow’ (Deleuze and Guattari 2004:454). Another way of approaching the subject is through Tim Ingold’s anthropological analysis of the embodied processes of enskillment that join both art and craft-making.
Practices of craftmanship have close links to the daily practices of the dancer, musician and artist. How can we discuss these processes from the viewpoint that even the smallest of ‘gestures’ (actions) can produce things, affects and change that encompass the potentiality for domain shifts and moving us through/across borders?
Download the full programme (pdf).
Please book your place by emailing the Research Administrator Angela Kerkhoff.
Parallax 13 – Melting, Shifting, Liquid World
16 Mar 2019, 17.30, 19.30, 21.30, National Maritime Museum, Romney Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF
With the Trinity Laban String Ensemble
Composer Hollie Harding
Director/ Electric Viola Nic Pendlebury
The world premiere performances of Melting, Shifting, Liquid World on the iconic Great Map at the National Maritime Museum. This is a new immersive, site-specific piece written by composer Hollie Harding (PhD candidate Creative Practice, Music) for Trinity Laban String Ensemble and electric viola soloist Nic Pendlebury. The work explores themes of climate change and ocean pollution and includes a pre-recorded tape part delivered to the audience over bone-conduction open-ear headphones. Hear the composer talk about her work.
Parallax 12 – Moving as a thought process: studio development and creative encounters
Wed 21 Nov 2018, 17.15-18.15, Lecture Theatre, Laban Building
Through investigative practice involving stillness processes and relational moving, this artistic research, conducted by Naomi Lefebvre Sell, Tara Silverthorn and Lucille Teppa over an eleven year period, has fostered a methodology where a refinement of the “felt sense” (Gendlin, 2003) was embodied, articulated and documented. This has taken place through the writing and moving of scores, or ‘Pathways’; compositions of improvisational agreements/frameworks, designed collectively. All this has provided a framework for the consideration and examination of dance-making from a mindfulness perspective.
Naomi, Tara and Lucille will present a new film,developed in collaboration with Jason Brooks, which captures this work. The film exposes the research at a point in time, as well as reveals some of their engagement with various groups (Cando2, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Centre for Advanced Training). The presenters will share some of their current concerns, inviting questions and dialogue surrounding their practice.
Dr Naomi Lefebvre Sell, Tara Silverthorn and Lucille Teppa
Chair and mentor of the project:
Prof Sarah Whatley, Professor of Dance and Director: Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE), Coventry University
Free and open to the public. External visitors who would like to attend are requested to book their place in advance by contacting the Research Administrator, Angela Kerkhoff.