Mise en Abyme: immersive performance and composition practices through interdisciplinarity, collaboration and music technology.

Mannion, R. (2019) Mise en Abyme: immersive performance and composition practices through interdisciplinarity, collaboration and music technology. Doctoral thesis, Royal College of Music.

Abstract

This doctoral portfolio and commentary thesis constitute a practice-led research into ‘immersive’ musical experiences, both from the perspective of the spectator and the composer. Specific parallels are drawn between immersive experiences, the concept of ‘mise-en-abyme’ (placing copies of an image within the same image, or placing a story within a story) and how this concept can be developed as a process for creating musical materials. Interdisciplinary art forms, collaborative methods and the novel approaches to using multimedia tools are explored for their potential in creating conditions for engaged listening and composition techniques. After an introduction to the ‘mise-en-abyme’ concept in Chapter One, the main body of the commentary thesis is divided into three main sections (Chapters Two, Three and Four). The first part (Chapter Two) explores specific musical devices that draw on installation art forms to provoke heightened experience of musical works. The second part (Chapter Three) explores two major collaborative projects, investigating detailed working methods, the role of the composer-performer and the evolving role of authorship in modern music making. The third part (Chapter Four) explores new methods of composing with digital media, that draw on the ‘mise-en-abyme’ concept as a process for generating new materials and musical structures. This is accompanied by a portfolio of eleven original works for acoustic instruments and electroacoustic media. Scores, audio and video recordings, digital performance materials (Max patches and Ableton Live sessions) and an appendix of supplementary materials are included in print form and on an accompanying USB flash drive.

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