Working on a postlude to ‘Spiricom’

I’ve been working on a piece for this year’s Plug festival at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which will be in May sometime. The theme this time round is ‘postludes’. Head of Composition Gordon McPherson has invited all the composers here, including staff like myself, to compose something which draws on, or reflects, or comments upon in some way, a piece from a previous Plug festival.

I’ve found myself drawn immediately to one of Gordon’s own pieces from 2007, ‘Spiricom’, part of a trilogy of pieces called ‘Ghosts’ which deal in various ways with death and a possible afterlife. ‘Spiricom’ refers to… we’ll, you can google it, a strange and mad episode in the history of pseudoscience, a couple of cranks who convinced themselves they had built a machine which would talk to dead people.

My postlude will be for solo clarinet and acoustic laptop: by which I mean a laptop operating entirely by itself, using just the internal mics and speakers. I’ve written a patch in Pd which will (quietly) transform long notes played by the clarinet, these long notes being a (very) approximate by-ear transcription of certain passages within Gordon’s original piece. I have Fraser Langton lined up to play the clarinet, and we’ve had a wee try out with the patch: sounds ok.

A frustrating, ugly, boring piece to listen to, I imagine. But it will only be short :)

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