University of Sussex
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Portfolio of compositions with commentary

posted on 2023-06-08, 15:29 authored by Simon Ronald Ashley Fricker
The 'Portfolio of Compositions' comprises three works, 'Contretemps', 'Awaken' and 'The Pit and the Pendulum', all of which share a common origin, a point of conception. The circumstances of their inception and subsequent development are explained in the commentary, a document which also sets out in an attempt to contextualise the relationship, diversity and scope of their respective content, through reference to both the commonality of the compositional stimulus and the precepts of my research plan. The main focus of the portfolio, 'The Pit and the Pendulum', is a work of operatic stature, inspired by a short story of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe. The two shorter pieces were completed first, but were also, however, born out of the beginnings of the major work; a few pages of orchestral score, scribbled quickly, the result of my initial emotional response to Poe's opening lines. Pages that survive virtually unchanged in the final orchestration, setting the 'harmonic' scene for the unfolding tale. Developing an interest in the complex and algorithmic properties of effective or fulfilling musical ‘line’, I wondered if there might be found, in Poe’s written prose, some suggestion of a literary equivalence of melodic line and counterpoint, mirrored in his narrative style. The objectives of my research questions, then, are as follows: The production of a large-scale musical composition, created entirely in artistic response to Edgar Allen Poe’s short tale. The composition shall sit within the restrictive framework of Poe’s unaltered narrative: the perceived spoken rhythm of each line of his prose, at first carefully transcribed as a stream of un-pitched notation, thereby providing a clearly defined stimulus for subsequent melodic and harmonic development. This ‘musicalisation’ to be inspired by the characteristics and style of Poe’s narrative content, fully preserved and presented, verbatim, in the finished work as the vocal line. Through intertextual exposition, it is anticipated that some justification of my postulations on Poe’s method might be revealed. The process has generated an outcome for further discussion; a portfolio of three discrete compositions, all inspired by the same source and which can be directly related to each other through reflective consideration and articulation of the creative process.


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