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SCARF:Network Science as a Technology of Musical Analysis and Composition

Monday, 12 November 2018, 12 – 1pm

SCARF:Network Science as a Technology of Musical Analysis and Composition

Led by Nicholas Brown (Music Department)

In music, ‘polyphony’ refers to the quality or texture of a musical composition. We speak of it primarily in relation to vocal music. It is a function of two, or more, musical elements, where each has a certain independence of motion. Often, we say these elements have a ‘linear’ quality and use the phrase, ‘melodic line’. Lines are said to ‘move’ and style inheres in the nature of that movement (‘counterpoint’). Theorists characterize the nature of linear motion with terms such as ‘similar’, ‘oblique’ and ‘contrary’. But what if, instead of emphasizing directed, linear motion, we were to think of polyphony as a complex, interacting system of interconnected musical events, each with a different level of interconnectedness - or to use a term from network science, ‘degree’? In this paper, I explore the possibility of investigating and creating polyphonic textures with the aid of paradigms from network theory. I address individual, small-scale musical events in complex, polyphonic textures in terms of their situatedness or involvement with other events or event-clusters. I illustrate my talk with analyses of polyphonic complexity in my own choral compositions and show how such models of music-making may be applied to creative practice. Overall, I imagine polyphony as a network of performative, vocal acts, each of which is necessarily separated from - yet also demonstrates interconnectedness with – other, contemporaneous acts of vocal sound-making.


Nicholas Brown is a composer, performer and writer, who creates musical works using a variety of time-based media and writes about theoretical issues in contemporary music practice. He has also composed an extensive body of concert and film music that has been presented at international festivals and venues such as the BBC Promenade Concerts; Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival; Science Gallery, Dublin; Turner Contemporary, Margate; Cambridge Festival of Ideas; Haarlem Koorbiennale (NL); and the Three Choirs Festival (UK). As a conductor, he has directed performances of his work at Lincoln Center, New York and the Barbican Centre in London; he has also given performances of it as a pianist at Wigmore Hall and Kings Place, London. As a writer, he has published articles on issues in the philosophy of music in contemporary practice, especially the use of digital technologies in computer-mediated/assisted composition. Nicholas was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford University and Manhattan School of Music, New York. He currently holds the post of Ussher Assistant Professor in Sonic Arts at Trinity College Dublin and is an Associate Researcher at the Orpheus Institute, Ghent. www.nicholasbrown.co.uk  twitter: @ngbrown

About SCARF
The School of Creative Arts Research Forum meets weekly in the Neill Theatre, Long Room Hub on Mondays at 12-1 in MT. The aim of the Forum is to give a space for School researchers, both staff and postgraduate students, to share their ideas in an informal, supportive environment. It is also an opportunity for the School to hear about the research of colleagues both from within TCD and outside who share our research interests. In line with the research agenda of the School, talks will encompass traditional research and practice-based research. We also offer special sessions on research funding. In semester one, all talks will be given by School staff, in semester two we expect research students, specifically doctoral students, to contribute to the Forum. Each talk should last around 20 mins and will be followed by a Q & A.



See full schedule here

Accessibility: Yes
Campus LocationTrinity Long Room Hub
Research Theme: Creative Arts Practice, Digital Humanities
Event Type: Alumni, Arts and Culture, Lectures and Seminars, Public, Workshops and Training
Type of Event: One-time event
Audience: Postgrad, Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Public
Cost: Free

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