Braiding time: in search of sounds from within

Morrish, N. (2021) Braiding time: in search of sounds from within. Doctoral thesis, Royal College of Music.

Abstract

This commentary reflects upon my search for sounds that emerge from within materials, rather than those imposed by structures from without. Through a discussion of the portfolio of works, I address how this led me to a renewed understanding of musical form. I document how an initial exploration of proportional structures became increasingly disrupted by the vitality of sound materials, and how my process evolved in recognition of this. Over time, a particular way of thinking about my compositional practice came into view. Braiding is conceived of as both a creative method and a way of thinking about form - a means of binding my craft with and within the flows of materials, and of creating sonic interdependencies in a work. My approach draws widely on both composers and theorists, including Eliane Radigue's treatment of time, James Tenney's harmonic trees, Tim Ingold's ecological anthropology and Siegfried Zielinski's medialities. In the first phase of research, a gradual drifting away from metered time is discussed through theories of rhythmic entrainment. Secondly, pure-ratio tuning systems are discussed as a means of creating frequential relationships. Lastly, the grain, spectrality and atmospherics of sound media are discussed in relation to theories of mediation.

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