Locational Aesthetics

Broadcast on Resonance FM in May 2016 as part of Drivetime Underground radio show presented by Neil Luck.

This piece is about the art/life dichotomy and how people can experience music in their everyday lives. I made this by making short factual recordings in the style of BBC Radio 4 broadcasts like the ‘Inheritance Tracks’ feature on Saturday Live, or Tweet of the Day, talking about how I experience music through seemingly non-musical activities like running, playing squash and fencing in my own daily life.

I perform the character of ‘composer-as-athlete’ with the added dimension of a lonely-hearts column, describing how three activities that I do on my own are related to music. I then invite the public to call me if they would like to join me, which is a response to the popular image of solitary composers working in isolation.

The acts that I describe are both ‘everyday’ and strange. It is not unusual that people go running, go fencing or play squash, but more unusual that they would run with horns in their mouth, fence with a violin bow, or play squash whilst talking about music. If people did this then it is possible they could have a musical experience by “waking up to the very life [they’re] living” (Cage quoted in Nyman, 1999, p. 26). The recordings are a playful response to experimental composers such as John Cage, who call for attention to be paid to the sounds of everyday life as music.

The speaking part is culled from improvised speech. I repurposed elements from earlier pieces: Bowmanship, Sound of a marathon and Squashing. This enabled me to talk about my ideas within the setting of a performance, which has a precedent in the performed lectures of Cage such as Lecture on Nothing (1959/2009, p. 109-127) where his “writing became part of his creative process, rather than simply an explanation of it” (Stones, 2013, p. 127).

During my musical education I considered a lot of academic musical analysis to be based on number sequences and patterns, so addressed this criticism in a playful way by using my phone number to generate a melody. I assigned each number from 0 to 9 to a pitch of the chromatic scale, creating a short melody out of my phone number, although this is not noticeable to the listeners.