generic/specific

December 5, 2016 - workbook

I’ve been reading a lot of game studies texts at the moment that are suggesting some useful ways forward. In particular, applying the frameworks of play, purpose and values developed by game designers and academics to music has presented me with some useful ways to begin thinking about how to develop open scores that rely on interpersonal interaction. One aspect of this is my ongoing consideration of specificity with regards to how a composition becomes fixed. I find myself making two types of pieces on the whole: those that are very open or general and could be realised in many different ways but which are defined by a very specific mechanic, and those which use such a mechanic in an applied or specific way. The best example of this is things whole and not whole, which has been developed into two more defined pieces: on bare trees (which additionally uses defined pitch material and points of ensemble repose), and interspersed sometimes with weeds and brambles (which defines a particular set of string sounds to use, along with a conflicting cueing method). It’s not quite a sketch relationship with the more developed pieces, but rather it references the notion of skinning in video games (and computing more generally). While the underlying engine or mechanic might be the same, the feel of the end result is altered or nuanced by the material and resultant surface. I like this analogy as it presents a process-oriented way of thinking about pieces: they are operated on by a higher-level structural principle. By applying processes to otherwise complete pieces it allows new variations and framings to emerge.

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