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Emily Doolittle is a Canadian composer now based in Glasgow and is a specialist in Zoomusicology, the study of the relationship between human music and animal song. Tonights piece, Utah, 1996, written originally for Tim Ingold, is based on a recording by Kevin Colver of a hermit thrush.

Glasgow Experimental Music Series

Eva-Maria Houben is a composer associated with the Wandelweiser group. Her body of work is a vast exploration into the worlds of sound and silence. Like other composers tonight, her music deals with the ontology of sounds, of the way they change slowly and the gradual change in our perception of them, but at an extremely distilled level. As for Gregor Forbes’ music, it is interested in using simple styles of notation to let performers challenge themselves, using raw sound materials and degrees of indeterminacy to enhance the liveness of live performance and the playful interaction of musicians.

24 March 2018 The Project Café, Glasgow

Laurence Crane

Jurgen Hip


Alex Nikiporenko

86 Permutations of Melancholia


Tim Parkinson

untitled cello and piano


Adam Hall was born in Seattle, Washington, where he began his cello studies at the age of four. He is currently working towards a Master’s degree in cello performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland as a pupil of Alison Wells. A performer, composer, and improviser, Adam frequently commissions and premiers new work involving the cello.

Emily Doolittle

Utah, 1996


Gregor Forbes

Terraces / Boulevards


Eva-Maria Houben

nur ein klang (5)


Gregor Forbes is a composer, pianist and conductor based in Scotland. He studied music at the University of Cambridge and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He runs the Glasgow Experimental Music Series and writes about music.

Gregor Forbes

At Cross-Purposes


Programme notes © Gregor Forbes 2018

Filipa Portela, Portuguese soprano, is currently studying MA Vocal Performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with Helen Lawson, having finished her Bachelor’s degree there with First Class Honours. Filipa won 1st Prize in the Competition of Interpretation in Estoril in July 2017, after which she has been engaged to perform as a soloist with many orchestras around Portugal. Filipa has wide experience in all sorts of performance situations, as an actress, theatrical and vocal improviser, clown, and singer.

Adam Hall, cello Gregor Forbes, piano with Filipa Portela, piano third hand

Six composers. Six different conceptions of what music is.

Scratch Orchestra lineage, and so on) yet always maintains its own defiant course, resisting all attempts to categorise it.

Usually when we attend a concert, we only hear music that claims the same artistic legitimacy, that represents a single notion of what it itself is. On the contrary, the music in tonight’s concert is filled with hypotheses about what music is and what it could be.

It is music painted with primary colours. Crane himself often describes his music with the conceit of looking at the same object from several angles. Certainly, these works are like sonic objects. But for me the main appeal is their strictly ontological quality – his pieces are. Their presence as pieces is friendly and warm yet inscrutable. They move in parallel with the ecstatic passing of ontological time.

There are always arguments to be had about what exactly experimental music is, and why a large proportion of composers subscribe to that word. As with any umbrella concept, we should take it with a pinch of salt whilst also looking for the truth or value in it. There are plenty of aesthetic and methodological theories which attempt to define it and all are persuasive but partial.1 Some critics, such as Jennie Gottschalk in her recent book2, are closer to defining experimental music as essentially a vague network of affinities, part of a global new music scene, although this ultimately ends up rather close to a commercial market as catered for in magazines such as Wire.


Often, the words of Martin Heidegger seem apt in discussing Crane’s music. Take this, for example, from The Origin of the Work of Art: “The unpretentious thing evades thought most stubbornly. Or can it be that this self-refusal of the mere thing, this self-contained, irreducible spontaneity, belongs precisely to the essence of the thing?” Alex Nikiporenko is a student of Laurence Crane but his work is more crystalline in its construction. His use of algorithmic processes, magic squares, mathematical structures, and so on, draws close to the work of Tom Johnson, so there is a sense in his work of ‘finding’ music by applying processes to sounds, but we also witness a very human form of aesthetic appreciation elicited by Nikiporenko’s elegant musical forms.

I would go a step further to suggest that the word ‘experimental’ is a quilting point which renders meaningful a wide field of otherwise free-floating musical signifiers:3 the word itself holds in place a frame of musical investigations, questions, ways of listening, techniques, practices, and so on. It is in this vein that the Glasgow Experimental Music Series thrives. But before considering the music in this programme, I’d like to propose one more initiatory definition: experimental music is music which, at some, more or less crucial, level of its creation and performance, takes a special interest in its own status as music.

Tim Parkinson writes some of the most idiosyncratic music there is. His work is often concerned with a sense of ordinariness, of experiencing musical sounds in a non-narrative, non-metaphorical context, like plain objects laid on a table. His music is an excellent example of what Jennie Gottschalk calls ‘non-fictional music’ (a term she thinks applies to most if not all experimental

Laurence Crane has developed an almost legendary status in the UK contemporary music scene. It is easy to see why. His work presents the simplest, most unassuming musical materials directly without development or adornment and it is simultaneously approachable and oddly radical. It is music that flirts closely with a cluster of several established styles (including minimalism, ambient music, pop music, British experimental music in the


cf. John Cage, Harry Partch, Michael Nyman, James Tenney, and MJ Grant Gottschalk, Jennie Experimental Music Since 1970, 2016 3 cf. Zizek, Slavoj The Sublime Object of Ideology, 1989 2

music). The piece we are playing tonight is quite an early composition which sets up the perceptually challenging world of two instruments playing independent parts, allowing for the potential of unexpected, almost miraculous, openings in a complex texture.


Of course, this is not exactly a new concept – Stravinsky said the same of his own music in his Harvard lectures, The Poetics of Music.

Profile for Glasgow Experimental Music Series

Glasgow Experimental Music Series March 2018 Programme  

Glasgow Experimental Music Series concert programme The Project Cafe, Glasgow 24 March 2018

Glasgow Experimental Music Series March 2018 Programme  

Glasgow Experimental Music Series concert programme The Project Cafe, Glasgow 24 March 2018