Music Through Architecture
Contributions to an Expanded Practice in Composition
Diogo Alvim, 2016
Sonic Arts Research Centre,
Queen’s University Belfast

 

Abstract:

 

This research is an inquiry into how architecture can inform, or contribute to the practice of composition. As an architect and composer, I try to find strategies for musical composition in architectural practice and thought, by reframing and confronting concepts and methodologies from both disciplines. My research aims at an expanded practice (and analysis) of musical creation, one that transverses different conceptions of space—from the score based pitch space to the social and political spaces of music’s production, performance and reception.

This practice based PhD research consists of a portfolio of nine works that were developed in a dialectical relation to these ideas. The works are presented in a framework composed of five conceptual tools used to articulate music and architecture. These are Material, Site, Drawing, Programme and Use.

With the notion of Material, I explore how the acoustic behaviour of a performance space, or of a ‘performative device’ affects the musical work. Architectural materials become musical ones as they are implicated in the listening experience. The discussion about Site brings to music the notions of place, the local, and everyday life, embracing soundscapes so many times excluded from musical discourse. Musical sites are also architectural sites, always related to their present environment, and their everyday contingencies. Drawing is a tool for developing ideas, for thinking (the sketch), but also the main mediator between architect and builder, or composer and performer (notation). When considered in a broad frame of possibilities, from symbolic to graphic systems, it helps to redefine the roles and ultimately to redefine the work itself. Programme exposes the constraints and conditions of the creation process, while also revealing the socio-political relations between musicians and audiences, institutions and composers, composers and performers. Programming as framing can be a platform to expand what the work concerns. Through a consideration of Use, the work becomes dispersed in a plurality of agents that converge in a useful event.

Thus composition, as architecture, moves from being about conditioning design to designing conditions where musical events may happen.

 

Information about the portfolio works:

 

INDIVIDUAL WORKS

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TYPE

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PRESENTATIONS

Music for Sax and Boxes Tenor sax and electroacoustic devices Franziska Schroeder at SARC, Belfast, 2 May 2012; F. Schroeder, ISMIR, Porto, 10 Oct 2012.
 

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Inside Out (Situation#) Woodwind and electroacoustic devices Linda Walsh oboe, SARC, Belfast, 25 Oct 2012; F. Schroeder, alto sax, SARC, 14 Mar 2013; F. Schroeder, soprano sax, Notation in Contemporary Music Symposium, Goldsmiths University London, 18 Oct 2013.
 

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Apartamento em Lisboa (narrador presente) Electroacoustic 4 ch Ibrasotope #60, São Paulo, 25 Apr 2014; Invisible Places, Viseu, 18-20 Jul 2014; RadioCona:ZimaFM, Slovenia, 15 Feb 2015.
 

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Travelogue #1 Electroacoustic 4 ch + video subtitles Musica Viva Festiva, Lisbon, 13 Dec 2013; Ibrasotope #60, São Paulo, 25 Apr 2014; BEAST FEaST, Birmingham, 2 May 2015.
 

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Tłumaczenie String quartet The Royal String Quartet, Sonorities Festival, SARC, Belfast, 22 Apr 2015

COLLABORATIONS

TYPE

PRESENTATIONS

No Chords Attached (with Eduardo Patrício, Pedro Rebelo and Rui Chaves). Piano, soundwalkers and electroacoustic;   6 channels Unlikely Places ensemble, ICMC, Ljubljana, 14 Sep 2012.
 

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Come Across (with Eduardo Patrício and Rui Chaves). Electroacoustic 3 ch +  videos + live projection The Global Composition Conference, Hochschule Darmstadt, 28 July 2012 (video version in a poster presentation); Sonorities Festival, SARC, 28 Apr 2013; Workshop for EcosOsso, at the Lisbon Architecture Triennial, Sep 2013.
 

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A Pirâmide e o Labirinto (with Bernardo Loureiro,    Filipe Barrocas, João Gonçalves, Julia de Luca and Rodrigo Arruda). Artist residency and final performance São Paulo Cultural Centre and Contemporary Art Museum of the University of São Paulo, Mar-May 2014.
 

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Play (with Matilde Meireles) Site-specific project; Electroacoustic 4 ch, live electronics and brass ensemble (cn, tp, flgh, th, euph, trb, tba) Belfast Festival, 24 and 25 Oct 2014.