13 Vices

Brian Irvine (Composer), Jennifer Walshe (Composer)

Research output: Non-textual formComposition


For string trio (Red Note Ensemble), vocalist (Jennifer Walshe) and improvisers: Paul Rogers (double bass), Paul Dunmall (saxophone) and Mark Sanders (percussion). Conducted by Brian Irvine. World premiere: The Mac, Belfast, 8 April 2015.

Aims and Context
13 Vices interrogates the concept of composer/performer/improviser as an integral part of the overall composition and explores notions of fluid communication and instant/preformed composition between three simultaneously presented sound forces.
A study of contemporary vices, the piece is an extension of the composer’s work based on the superimposition of opposing musical forces and genres.

Methodology and findings
Rejecting more familiar notions of instruments and players feeding into a singular musical narrative 13 Vices utilises a composer/conductor gesture-response language devised via Irvine’s long-standing relationship with these contemporary classical and improvising musicians. The methodology facilitates simultaneous, often opposing responses within a multi-layered sound construct. The work was born out of a creation process with the players combining a fixed notated string trio score in parallel with rehearsed gestures and signals as interpretative cues for improvisers and Walshe.

The modular movement form allows the performance construct to instantly morph at the discretion of the composer/conductor both within the work itself but also from performance to performance. The compositional process involved the sampling of audio, video and textual material extracted from trash TV (Cheaters), Internet Radio, You Tube, hair product ads etc as well as reconstructed real-life observations as experienced by both Irvine and Walshe. These verbatim samples are frequently the subject of performance material by Irvine and Walsh, with one performer acting as commentator on the other’s material, performance and role within the overall work.

The work was nominated for a British Composers Award in 2016 and was selected to be part of the 2017 PRS New Music Biennial at the Southbank in London.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBelfast/Dublin/London/Drogheda/Hull/Aberdeen/Bremen, Germany
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2 Apr 2015


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