During three months, I will be working on the composition of my first timbrescape, a low-tech multichannel electroacoustic piece interacting with the environment of the village. Furthermore, this residency will give me time to start the composition process of two instrumental pieces, which will be premiered in Germany by the end of the year.
I am grateful to this artist-in-residence programme for giving me the opportunity to focus on my work in such an amazing place.
Breakdown is a mechanical failure. This idea of ‘malfunction’ is the main concept of the piece from a technical and aesthetical perspective. Both instruments (tenor recorder and oboe) are thought of as parts of a machine that is about to collapse. However, this composition also recalls a human emotional crisis, the overwhelming feeling of being unable to control or achieve something deeply desired in life. Consequently, each instrumental technique is developed in detail to be perceived as a failed attempt to make it work.
This is a composition from 2021, commissioned by the amazing ensemble XelmYa.
For bass clarinet, double bass, piano and electronics (2022).
The title is a reflexion taken from the essay ‘A Cyborg Manifest’, written by Donna Haraway, which becomes the conceptual frame of a series of pieces I started to compose this year. Haraway writes, ‘Cyborg feminists have to argue that “we” do not want any more natural matrix of unity and that no construction is whole.’ (2016, p. 21). Thus, this composition is an exploration of the relation between concepts like organism-machine, physical-non-physical, and natural-artificial. Through the analysis of the apparent opposition it surges a construction of fundamental connexions, which attempt the expansion of the technical, aesthetical and existential boundaries. Conceptually, the difference between the live performance (acoustic, natural) and electronics (digital, artificial) transfigure into a new timbral experience through the interaction of the harmonic spectra and their mutual alteration in the acoustic space of the instruments.
It is an enormous happiness that my piece ‘Estudio tímbrico de lo efímero y volátil’ has been one of the winners of the Ibermúsicas Prize of Composition and Premiere of Work 2022, and I am so grateful to share this recognition with the wonderful ensemble Suono Mobile Argentina.
It has been several months of intense collaborative work, which we will share next year with the public of Córdoba in concert and other activities that we are planing. This is the first prize I receive in my career, and it means so much that it has been for this collaboration because it was in Argentina where I started my compositional studies.
This composition for viola with amplification is an exploration of the fluctuation of light and its fragility as a timbral condition, something to be heard instead of being seen. Here, I am especially interested in discovering new technical possibilities to approach the viola, that is, the recognition of each of its parts from the diversity of its materiality (shape, size, surface, depth, resonance, etc.). Furthermore, I look for an understanding of the corporal interaction between the performer and multiple objects of different characteristics that can be used to generate and modulate specific timbral conditions associated to the perception of light as a dynamic entity. The amplification in this piece works as a multidimensional extension for the timbral experience created live by the prepared viola played on stage, thus the acoustic sound is integrated with the stereo spatialisation of the amplified signal, contributing to the perception of the piece as a unique timbre in itself. From a creative perspective, there is an association with an imaginary elusive creature, continuously flickering, changing shapes and textures, enlarging or disappearing, nervously moving or mysteriously staying still.
This piece was commissioned by Aleksandra Demowska-Madejska for her solo project ‘The Unusual Matter’ with the support of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage under the “Composing Orders” programme implemented by the National Institute of Music and Dance of Poland. The premiere took place at the International Festival of Contemporary Music Poznańska Wiosna Muzyczna 2022 (51st Poznań Music Spring Festival).
One Is Too Few, for prepared piano, belongs to a series of pieces inspired by the essay ‘A Cyborg Manifest’ written by Donna Haraway, in which I propose a hybrid process that allows to explore the conceptual confrontation between organism-machine, physical-non-physical, and natural-artificial. In this case, the author explains how to be one is to be autonomous and powerful, while being other is to be multiple, without clear boundary—one is too few, but two are too many; and how high-tech culture challenges this dualism. Following Haraway´s reflection: ‘Our machines are disturbingly lively, and we ourselves frighteningly inert’, the piano preparation aims the creation of a timbral experience that responds to these perceptual experiences of disturbance and frightening, explored through the antagonism of live-inert from the instrumental techniques and the performer’s skills. Consequently, the piece presents three evident sections that are thought as the cycle of an old washing machine, which stops abruptly to start another action; however, there is an intended delicacy that wraps the whole piece and is appreciated through the fragility of most of the techniques and the filtered/muted resonance of the piano.
This piece was especially written for the British pianist Kate Ledger, who premiered it on 8 September 2022 at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
After three years of intense work as a doctoral researcher at the University of Leeds, it is my pleasure to share with you the results. The PhD thesis is now available on White Rose eTheses Online, thus you can download the whole document as well as the scores of the pieces that integrate this research: https://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/30305/
Additionally, you can listen to the compositions on this SoundCloud playlist, where I have collected live recordings of the premieres, reading sessions and rehearsals:
I highly appreciate the generosity of all the composers who inspired my research and allowed me to include their works in my thesis. I had the opportunity to share my study on timbre with some of them and those conversations definitely enriched my perspective.
During this period of time, I was funded by the University of Leeds through an AHC Doctoral Research Scholarship granted by the Faculty of Arts Humanities and Cultures. I can’t thank enough to my supervisors Prof Martin Iddon and Dr Scott McLaughlin for their invaluable support and guide during this process, all my admiration and gratitude.
The recordings of the last two pieces that I composed as part of my PhD research are now available on SoundCloud. Both are focused on the study of texture as one of the semantic dimensions of timbre and explore the correlations between tactile, visual and timbral perceptual experiences related to rust and dryness.
In 2020, I had the amazing opportunity to be commissioned by Illuminate Women’s Music to compose a piece for amplified cello and piano, which has been performed by Ivana Peranic and Rachel Fryer across the UK during the last two months.
Composers Sarah Westwood, Angela Elizabeth Slater and Blair Boyd work together on this fantastic project that seeks to support and promote women’s music through commissions and a series of concerts that actually allow us to develop and share our work.
I have shared some thoughts about me and this particular composition, which is part of my current research on timbre from a textural perspective. Finally, I extend the invitation to get to know other composers that have been also part of this season.