MapMaking- the collaborative project with the Royal College of Art continues to be poorly scheduled. We tend to end up starting about an hour and a half late because A: people don't turn up on time and B: once we are there no one has a clear plan for what should happen and when (also where. Last week we made the room booking lady at the RCA tear a few hairs out because we were all over the building without having booked any of the rooms.) So I really want to get in the middle of all of this an reorganize so that things run more efficiently.
That being said work is finally getting done and I'm starting to get excited about the outcome. I am working solely in the Africa section (Quick recap: The theme is Climate Change as viewed through the lens of Equator Countries so we are divided up between the three equator continents [Indonesia, Africa, South America] to make pieces about how climate change is effecting them.) I am directly responsible for the music accompanying a piece by a Taiwanese girl named Kuku.
Kuku's work is simple and charming in what can be quite a hard hitting way. The piece that she showed at the beginning of this project to give us an idea of what her work is like was about growing up in a country that is sort of kind of, but really not, China. She works with pieces of clear plastic that she paints and then moves around either adding or taking away additional pieces according to what is happening in the narrative. The piece that we are working on for MapMaking involves a giraffe, a tree, some symbiotic insects, and humans- each of whom have their own little piece of clear plastic. Part of what happens in her film (Oh, did I say that part? These are films) is that the tree dies, she does this by dissolving the paint with paint remover on a Q-tip. You can see her hands while this is happening. It's a bit difficult to explain- but the point is that it is quirky and charming so I needed to make the music quirky and charming as well.
Thursday evening was creative ensemble. We didn't have CE last week because Nathan was mean to be leading it, but that Monday his wife Katja gave birth (congratulations!) so he was understandably not showing up. (Since Katja and Nathan are both tutors on the Leadership course this brings the full number of tutors with newborns up to 5.) But we were back again this week and I explored/composed with the group.
In order to keep the quirky/charming aspect and also in order to make the piece flexible enough to go with whatever the film ends up looking like-the narrative is going to change because currently it is not terribly clear. (The first time I watched it I thought she was trying to say that termites are killing giraffes. This is not the case nor the intent of the movie) I have assigned certain instruments certain characters/players in the movie. The tuba is the tree, the pair of cellos are the giraffe, the insects are the oboe, and the humans are silence. The graphics are very simple, so I wanted to keep the sound simple as well so the harmonies are all based on perfect intervals. The tuba line is moving the slowest. Jo has three notes to work with and the instruction to make the notes about one breath length. The cellos have an interval (perfect 5th) and parallel motion to work with. Their tempo is a bit faster- about one medium speed bow length. The oboe has three pairs of Major and minor seconds to work with. Her tempo is quite quick, she is an insect after all-she has to scurry. The effect is a little spooky and a little suspended.
At the RCA today we (I say "we" but you'll notice there isn't a bass part in this piece) played the rough draft that we worked out yesterday for the artists and the tutors. I worked with Emily (a composition fellow? tutor? I don't know- the important part is that her baby is due in August) in the afternoon and she gave me some good suggestions for a bit of harmonic movement so that it doesn't end up quite as static as it currently is- so I'm going to need to sit at a piano and play with that a bit before presenting it to the group next week at Creative Ensemble (also known as 9lives).
I think it is weird that I ended up writing (can I say writing? I feel like 'sculpting' is almost a better word...) a piece that is so harmonically driven considering that harmony is one of the area that I feel the weakest in musically. When I sat down with Emily this afternoon we wrote down in chordal form what I had asked people to play (the tonal center turns out to be sort of g minor-y) - but that isn't how I knew how think about it - I just knew what had been floating around in my head for the last couple of weeks and then tried to get them to play it.