December 29, 2015 - workbook
This was the first proper version of #[unassigned] I made, following the Twelve Pieces written for Suono Mobile that were performed at Darmstadt in the preceding July. The earlier piece was performed under the original title, but the process was essentially very similar to what I began using in #[unassigned] so I subsequently retitled it #180700. But #051000 was the first one I made using the titling system that derives the title from the date.
I can’t find a plan for this version, but there’s a single page in my notebook that sketches out the principle. I think that was done in Darmstadt, or possibly just afterwards. In #180700 the use of time brackets is there, and this derived from a slightly more organised development of compatibility hides itself (1998) and the subsequent attempts to produce overlays of short pieces. So when making #051000 I had a pretty clear idea of how to combine the modules. In this version there are a pair of modules that are for both players in a strict relationship. This is something I stopped doing almost immediately afterwards though as the lack of flexibility meant I couldn’t recombine the modules in other versions. Essentially I could only use those modules in versions with clarinet and cello.
The score also makes reference to a CD part. This was played over a PA, quite loudly in the end, and comprised high and low sine tones with some beating. The tones overlapped with the instrumental material but were otherwise unrelated, mostly working in parallel as a separate layer.
A lot of the features of the later versions are present here: sustained tones, very quiet sounds on the edge of silence, longer silences, and the beginning of an engagement with extended techniques. I must have been thinking about the kind of language I was using as there’s a bullet point list in my notebook in advance of the sketch above that questions the material I was using. A lot of these ideas gradually appear over the next year or so: use of objects, long notes for example. There is also a note about needing to find my own sounds, as at this point in the project there’s a kind of nondescript post-Webern soundworld, quite gestural and insular.
The other two questions predate the fixing of #[unassigned] as a format. Firstly, the role of silence: I seem to be recognising that there is a transition from the units being collections of pieces to modules in an extended piece. As a result, silence is experienced as part of a single continuum. I also question how intuitive the placing of the modules and the intervening silences should be. I think here it was still fairly arbitrary, but in versions made a year later I was far more organised about the structure. Secondly, there is a note about ‘ambivalence to musicians’. This was not a comment that I was ambivalent, but that there needed to be something for them to aim at. #[unassigned] by its nature is generally a series of parallel solos that coexist. There’s very little explicit synchronisation, although ensemble playing is key. So I must have been questioning how to generate a sense of (musical) purpose for the players.
#051000 was requested by Anton Lukosevieze for the Apartment House performance at the Warehouse in London as part of the BMIC’s Cutting Edge series. This was a significant platform for new work – and I really valued all the concerts I managed to get to over its long run into the early 2000s – and it was my first opportunity to work with Apartment House. They supported my work with such commitment, continuing to the recent recording of assigned #15, and the players were in essence the workshop for the different pieces. The piece was performed by Anton and Andrew Sparling on 5 October 2000, and later broadcast on Radio 3. I also performed with them for the first time, standing on the balcony of the Warehouse with Alwynne Pritchard, each armed with an airhorn while Gerhard Stäbler cued us from the floor in his piece Hart auf Hart. A good place to start as a performer.