Simon Mawhinney (Composer)

Research output: Non-textual formComposition


Merula is a thirty-minute work for bass flute and electronics, commissioned by Icelandic flautist Kolbeinn Bjarnason. The premiere took place in the Belfast Festival at Queen’s in November 2012. A recording will be made in 2014. Further performances in Iceland, Norway and Poland are anticipated in 2014-15. I have given a research seminar on this work at Queen’s and will deliver it again at the University of Oxford during 2013-14.

Research Goals
1) To develop an effective means of notating live electronics in a manner that would sustain the work's performance history beyond the current generation of software
2) To apply the techniques of transcription and spectralism used in my composition, Perseid, using birdsongs as source material
3) To explore the problem of sustaining large-scale form in music that is primarily fast
4) To facilitate the emergence of the solo bass flute as an important solo instrument through the completion of a new large-scale work

• Methodologies employed in this project included sound recording, sound analysis and transcription, extensive precompositional sketching, electroacoustic techniques of sound manipulation, designing complex live processes of sound transformation and spatialisation
• A considerable part of this work was collaboration with the flautist, both in SARC and Iceland. Mr. Bjarnason was involved all stages of the work, frequently recording source materials and helping to ensure the idiomatic nature of the flute writing.
• Developing a means of notating the live electronics. Building on a model suggested by Pierre Boulez in Anthemes 2 (1998), the score of this work includes a technical manual that describes electronic processes in a manner that can be reprogrammed in subsequent generations of software. Combined with a system of notations employed in the full score, the technical manual will enable this composition to be performed by a wide range of performers and technical teams, with appropriately identical results.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2012


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