Page Turners and how everything is connected

Here is a blog about one of my current works in progress. Most of my compositions are inter-connected and via sports, crafts and field recordings I’ve entered a sonic universe where all ingredients are formulated to such abstraction it becomes hard to recognise their origins. I thought it might be interesting to take you on a trip. Let me be your tour guide to ‘Page Turner Étude nº 3’.

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Perhaps, to a critical traditionalist, I’m a composer who introduces something as frivolous as ‘dabbling with crafts’ into serious music. Yet, ‘Page Turner Étude nº 3’ amalgamates a plethora of subjects and concepts that without explanation might otherwise be overlooked. Many of which I have tried, tested and condensed over time to reduce to its most essential elements, very much inspired by how an elegant mathematical formula can reduce a complex problem to a few symbols only. 

The problem with electronic music is that it’s dependent on far more external physical parameters than characters printed on paper, a medium that has proved to last for centuries. Going one step further, digital audio developments are even more dependent on non-music related components, both physically and even in their own virtual habitat. A small upgrade of one aspect of third party software might have the knock-on effect of rendering an entire composition to zero.

The complexity I’m trying to formulate with my current pieces is how to integrate the incredible universe of sonic possibilities I’ve experienced from working with sound in electronics into a base format, by using the tools over a wide range of art disciplines I’ve equipped myself with over the years. In the Page Turners works fragmentary essences of (in order of appearance below) field recording samples, fashion, design, classical and contemporary composing and electronic DAW music feature in a very stripped down, nearly white cube, approach. With, of course, the tongue-in-cheek humour in contradicting the general etiquette of how to handle sheet music…

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Natural soundscapes offer a great source of textures and fluidity in timing and are a major influence to me. I use field recording samples in my compositions, but in this page turning concept as a minimalist statement I’ve broken down environmental granulated sound textures such as wind, sea waves, rustling leaves, snow, breaking ice into its simplest component – the rustling of the paper the music is notated on.

This granulated sound is generated by sculpting spacial dimensions and movement into the single plane medium of the paper sheet. Briefly I studied fashion in Amsterdam – it’s a long story – and seeing couture from a ‘single plane material becoming sculptural’ perspective as opposed to ‘making clothes’ was an eye opener. Regardless of whether or not it would end up as a garment, in my case.

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A paper sheet’s timbre and pitch I design per composition and sometimes per page, controlled by choosing the type and size of paper used for the score. In ‘Page Turner Étude nº 3’ this meant I had to use waxed paper which is impossible to print on or glue anything to. Using a second material and mechanical fixing such as stitching instead, not only attaches the notation, it also amplifies the rustling sounds. I studied design to learn more about composing – that’s another long story – and it’s great to see both disciplines finding their way together so, errr…, seamlessly.

Page Turner compositions interweave conventional notation, the classical part, with experimental notation, the contemporary part as single physical entities in one score. Additionally, one performer performs two instrument parts simultaneously, that of piano (in this case) and the page turner part. Both with the same attention to timing and dynamics.

In these works natural sound textures are rendered to their most simplified and fundamental component. Being a child of my time, versatility is a mindset – only one digital click away. As such, all Page Turner works can be performed acoustically: I envisioned that technically they could have existed in the 1700s. Alternatively, they can equally be performed by their modern contemporary electronic peers. For these versions I composed dedicated digital, DAW, sound processing packages for each work which colour in the amplified rustling paper sounds textures into the natural soundscapes they are evoking.

‘Page Turner Étude Nº 1-3’, for piano and page turning, are commissioned by Eleonor Sandresky with additional support from the British PRS Foundation Composer Award and will be performed later this year. ‘Turner Piece’, for ensemble and page turners, will be performed in a programme curated by Kate Moore in the Muziekgebouw Amsterdam, early 2019.

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Folk Stories Native Soundscapes

Earlier this year I was in Helsinki for an M-cult commission about folk stories and their native soundscapes. It’s part of a larger project I’m working on in collaboration with several universities throughout Europe mapping this out per region. Sounds and Stories Live concert was for storytelling and manipulated fieldrecordings, performed by means of prepared knitting needles, as knitting and storytelling go hand in hand through centuries. The M-cult team made a wonderful project interview about it. #soundsandstorieslive

Jobina Tinnemans – Sounds and Stories Live from m-cult on Vimeo.

 

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Listen to Imagiro Largo music here

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Rugged wild landscapes with their hills and mountains read like music to me. The Icelandic use the work ‘fjallasyn’ to describe a distant view, especially in clear weather and from a point where you can see a big part of a highland area – a panorama with many peaks.

There are two IMAGIRO works (this is IMAGIRO LARGO):

‘Imagiro Landmannalaugar’, which Youtube video you can watch here, is titled after the wide Icelandic mountainous scenic views, the fjallasyn, it was inspired by. It’s performed by its 24 metres long #panoramicscore. This work is like a roam through the wilderness.

‘Imagiro Largo‘ works the same, by graphic panoramic score, but also as traditional sheet music. Read more about it on my blog. It would take an entire production team a week to set it up as a panoramic concert, as such it was premiered using the score. ‘Imagiro Largo’ is more akin to a landscape garden, planned and cultivated with mathematical precision.

Première concerts were performed by Ensemble Synaesthesis in the Arts Printing House, Vilnius, on August 14. Recorded and mixed by Vytautas Bedalis. Mastered by Jobina Tinnemans. Photo by Dominykas Digimas.

IMAGIRO ‘Landmannalaugar’ and ‘Largo’ are commissioned by the Lithuanian Composers’ Union and Sound And Music UK and produced during the DAR Residency in Druskininkai, LT.

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Watch IMAGIRO LANDMANNALAUGAR here

I’m extremely proud to present this video to you – thank you Ensemble Synaesthesis for the spellbinding performance!

Rugged wild landscapes with their hills and mountains read like music to me. The Icelandic use the work ‘fjallasyn’ to describe a distant view, especially in clear weather and from a point where you can see a big part of a highland area – a panorama with many peaks. (Thank you Örlygur!)

There are two IMAGIRO works as a result of my DAR Lithuania commission:

Imagiro Landmannalaugar’, which Youtube video you can watch here, is titled after the wide Icelandic mountainous scenic views, the fjallasyn, it was inspired by. It’s performed by its 24 metres long #panoramicscore. This work is like a roam through the wilderness. Première concert was in the Arts Printing House, Vilnius, on August 14.

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Imagiro Largo‘ works the same, by graphic panoramic score, but also as traditional sheet music. Read more here. It would take an entire production team a week to set it up as a panoramic concert, as such it was premiered using the score. ‘Imagiro Largo’ is more akin to a landscape garden, planned and cultivated with mathematical precision.

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#IMAGIRO Sound and Music Contemporary Music Ensemble Synaesthesis

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IMAGIRO premieres were sensational!

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Happy about how #IMAGIRO ‘Largo’ and ‘Landmannalaugar’ worked out. If I get the chance will be writing more in this line. It has been such a physical, intuitive and ungiving mathematical process, a very interesting challenge to match these contrasting qualities. Thank you so much for commissioning Egidija Medeksaite, the Lithuanian Composers Union and Sound and Music and Contemporary Music Ensemble Synaesthesis for performing. The light engineer of Menų spaustuvė/ Arts Printing House did a wonderful job. Here are a few stills from the video I took. #panoramicscore #graphicscore  Dar Dar DAR_Druskininkai Artists’ Residence
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IMAGIRO #3 stages of development

IMAGIRO - painting panoramic score - Jobina Tinnemans

‘IMAGIRO’ is a composition for ensemble and panoramic score, unfolding its music from a single landscape size movement into a sound sculpture like origami, whilst pacing the musicians through the concert space in a slow-motion ceremonial choreography of imaginary Olympian sprinters.

For those interested, let me talk you through the many various stages of creating this work. I guess because it’s just as much part of the composition as the music itself. 

At the bottom of photo below is the initial ink and brush sketch. An idea I have been playing with for a considerable amount of time with my own interpretation of Chinese traditional scrolls and after a snowy visit to Iceland. Experiencing the music in a landscape, a wide kinetic scenery of sound. This initial sketch features the concept of a panoramic score, having the musicians read their parts while walking along the score.

In the sketchbook on the right I calculated how many steps would fit in the dimensions of the concert space resulting in how many minutes of music. And how to engineer the order of the panoramic score in such way it would result in a standalone piece of music rather than a concept only.

Not shown in photo is the following stage where I had to forget about all these parameters and write music from a spiritual place in my mind – ‘feeling free’, right?! – within this extremely specified dogma.

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Which, in the top of the picture, I translated into a tangible ‘IMAGIRO’ sheet music version. This communicates the music, but not the sound kinetics, choreography and visual aspects of this piece.

On the large sheets of graph paper I’ve been charting out the graphic panoramic score step by step to get a grip on the technique of notating this work to how I envision it to be when finished.

Photo at the bottom shows how I’m getting closer to the final graphic panoramic score, by painting the sound pitches and textures on model scale.

I’m like a fish in water. Or a duck in a pond. Totally loving this entire process.

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‘IMAGIRO’ has been commissioned for ensemble Synaesthesis by LKS in partnership with AiR Krems and Sound And Music. during the DAR residency in Druskininkai, Lithuania. The work will be premiered in Vilnius on August 14, 2017.

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