Four Pieces for Quartet

Rob Casey (Composer)

Research output: Non-textual formComposition

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'Four Pieces for Quartet' is a practice-as-research music composition for quartet and electronics. It combines fixed and open notation, improvisation and embodied theory of cognition.

The piece is informed by the music of Anthony Braxton, Eliane Radigue, Helmut Lachenmann, John Cage, Christian Wolff and many contemporary improvising musicians. The notation is in part derived from the embodied cognition theory of Mark Johnson

Research Aims
Building on theories of embodiment, the music combines improvisational and compositional practices ranging from complex fixed notation to graphic scores and free improvisation.
1.Devise a modular composition that affords multiple combinations of text, space, and embodied experience.
2.Combine notated (part III), chronometric (part III), mathematical (part III) and subjective (parts I; II; IV) temporal streams.
3.Use embodied theory to extend concepts of process and action notation developed by experimental composers (Cage, Wolff, Lachenmann, Cassidy et al.)

Space and Time: Part I explored the concept of music as process (Cage), blending rehearsal and performance space. Time in Part II and Part IV was determined by improvisers’ negotiated experiences (Wolff). Poisson Distribution formulae (Xenakis: Formalized Music) ordered the temporal and spatial content of Part III.
Embodiment: Drawing on embodied cognition theory (Johnson), open processes (Cage), performer interaction (Wolff) and action notation (Lachenmann) this piece situated the performer’s phenomenological being at the music’s centre. Working from the premise that higher order concepts are rooted in sensorimotor perception (Johnson) this composition argues for a more comprehensive synthesis or counterpoint of experiential modalities within formal musical structures. Over several weeks these concepts were negotiated with the musicians. This shared process further bolstered the case for adapting cultural and analytical models of musical meaning to incorporate a dynamical distributed layered phenomenology of musical understanding.

Premiered in Dublin at the National Concert Hall in May 2015
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNational Concert Hall, Dublin
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 19 May 2015


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