Cloud Triptych: an exploration of stochastic movement between discrete musical behaviours

Cummings, Simon (2017) Cloud Triptych: an exploration of stochastic movement between discrete musical behaviours. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

[img]
Preview
Text
Simon Cummings - PhD Commentary FINAL 2017 REVISED.pdf

Download (4MB)
[img]
Preview
Text
Simon Cummings - ‘unredeemed’ self-)portrait (in the form of an eagle (2008) for solo flute.pdf

Download (249kB)
[img]
Preview
Text
Simon Cummings - Blesi (Five Transitions of the Soul) (2009) for six players.pdf

Download (525kB)
[img]
Preview
Text
Simon Cummings - Cloud Triptych for large orchestra (2016) - CONDUCTOR'S SCORE.pdf

Download (2MB)
[img]
Preview
Text
Simon Cummings - Cloud Triptych for large orchestra (2016) - STRINGS SCORE.pdf

Download (3MB)
[img]
Preview
Text
Simon Cummings - Four Seasons for flute choir (2016).pdf

Download (1MB)
[img]
Preview
Text
Simon Cummings - HELP_ME the soul-machine of the cosmology of grief (2010) for 16 players.pdf

Download (4MB)
[img]
Preview
Text
Simon Cummings - Intense quick dream … (2010) for string sextet.pdf

Download (517kB)
[img] Audio
01. ‘unredeemed’ self-)portrait (in the form of an eagle.wav

Download (101MB)
[img] Audio
02. HELP_ME the soul-machine of the cosmology of grief.wav

Download (59MB)
[img] Audio
03. Intense quick dream ….wav

Download (50MB)
[img] Audio
04. Four Seasons - I. prime-temps.wav

Download (86MB)
[img] Audio
05. Four Seasons - II. sama.wav

Download (43MB)
[img] Audio
06. Four Seasons - III. fall.wav

Download (107MB)
[img] Audio
07. Four Seasons - IV. vindo.wav

Download (65MB)
[img] Audio
08. Cloud Triptych - I.wav

Download (59MB)
[img] Audio
09. Cloud Triptych - II.wav

Download (97MB)
[img] Audio
10. Cloud Triptych - III.wav

Download (76MB)
[img] Archive
DISC 2 - DATA.zip

Download (940kB)

Abstract

The primary objective of my compositional research is to create perceptible, large-scale musical
transformations. To this end, my research project was to compose a series of works employing
algorithmic techniques of my own devising, specifically designed to map stochastic processes of
movement between epicentres of discrete musical behaviour. The processes are codified in and
realised by bespoke computer programs that generate the resultant musical material. This material
is then interpreted, modified as needed and finally notated as a score. The implications and
validity of these processes are thereby tested in the compositions.

The specific focus of my research is music for acoustic instruments. The portfolio includes a
principal work, Cloud Triptych, and five preliminary pieces for smaller numbers of players,
exploring processes that generate portions of material to be incorporated into larger structures as
well as complete compositions. An important part of this exploration was the integration of both
computational and intuitive materials, and the extent to which computational models can effect an
embodiment of my compositional practice, thereby simulating musical creativity. In each of the
compositions the different aspects that make up any musical behaviour – such as rhythm, pitch,
articulation and dynamic – are treated as independent parameters that together comprise the
whole. As such, they are scrutinised and developed both on their own terms and in their role
interacting with each other within larger musical entities. The central role of behaviour, and the
way it can serve as a discrete epicentre of stable musical focus, is explored in several ways, abruptly
alternating between contrasting behavioural states as well as various kinds of transition and
transformation.

The goal and outcome of this research was the composition of the extended large orchestral work
Cloud Triptych, which lasts approximately 28 minutes. This was created using an extensive piece of
software of my own design, CloudCube, that both encapsulates and greatly expands the
computational outlook of the preliminary works, in so doing approximating closer than ever to an
embodiment of the diverse aspects of my compositional practice.

As well as the scores of the six compositions, the portfolio contains this 25,000-word commentary
explaining the creative and technical processes I have developed, and discussing their
implementation in the compositions, along with two accompanying CDs.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: I would like to extend my thanks to the following people and groups, for their insights and every kind of help and support: Christopher Redgate, Rowland Sutherland, Alex Surman, Carla Rees, B.C.M.G., Richard Baker, The Curious Chamber Players, Rei Munakata, Thallein Ensemble, Edwin Roxburgh, Schubert Ensemble, Chi Hoe Mak, Laura Kox, Leeds Flute Choir, Ruth Hopkins, Thumb, Interrobang, Torsten Anders, Marc Yeats, Kenneth Hesketh, John Wall, Nikolaos Fountoulakis, Stuart Bowes, Aaron Cassidy, Matt Sergeant, Ken Kirschner, Geraint Wiggins, Murphy McCaleb, Sebastiano Dessanay, Veleka Algar, Edmund Hunt, Stuart Stephens, Thomas Simaku, Carrie Churnside, Chris Dingle, Joe Cutler, Francis Firth, Stephanie Fowler, Sanshia Bedford and Sandy Price. Special thanks to my supervisors: Howard Skempton, for having the loosest possible interpretation of a two-hour tutorial, the uncanny ability always to locate salient points for discussion, and for sharing quantities of wisdom that will take me years to unpack and understand. Peter Johnson, for convincing me that my work had the potential for further investigation, and for being the best academic mentor and proof-reader I’ve ever had. Extra special thanks to Herb, my beloved little cat, whose omnipresent company kept me from ever being alone. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to the following people: Christopher Best, for being there at the beginning (the actual beginning) and for ongoing support and friendship. Paul Berg, for sowing the seeds of method and technique that would prove the most important of my compositional life. Stephen Thiselton, for saving the day more than once, and for helping me to apprehend and solve various elements within CloudCube. Michael Finnissy, for embodying an impossible combination of challenge and optimism, and for consistently asking the questions no-one else ever asked. Richard Causton, for countless, infinitely patient and encouraging conversations, and above all for helping me – finally! – to learn how to play. I dedicate this Ph.D. to my wife Anna, whose love and support has been and continues to be the one constant parameter in a landscape of perpetual transition and change. Without her this research could simply never have happened.
Uncontrolled Keywords: algorithmic compositon, CloudCube, computational creativity, musical behaviour, probability, stochastic process, transformation
Subjects: G900 Others in Mathematical and Computing Sciences
W300 Music
Divisions: REF UoA Output Collections > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Kip Darling
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2019 16:56
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2019 16:56
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/6918

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Research

In this section...