Workflow as a mediatory agency in a compositional language
: Portfolio of Compositions with Commentary

  • Alan Barclay

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This composition portfolio comprises eleven works presented in musical scores. In this work, I will consider the migration of my workflow. Stemming from works based on a pencil-and-paper based system to an OpenMusic Computer-aided Composition environment outlining the shortcomings and advantages of each, and discussing the various ways in which a digital workflow has influenced the intentions, impulses, and ideations of a musical work. This examination is achieved through a comparison of the music; by juxtaposing pieces composed through different workflows, questioning some of the established paradigms of interaction between composers and technology and addressing the technical and aesthetic considerations that arose in each work. It is through this inspection of workflow that other concepts which encompass this research will be examined: computer-aided composition, dematerialisation, composer-performer collaboration, and symbology. Particular attention is given to discussion of the development of graphic notation both in terms of the technical implementation, but also as apart of my workflow.
The research aims to show how a composer's working environment has influenced and permeated the compositional process of a musical work by reconstructing it from specific elements and traces —studies, sketches, drafts, and kept digital elements.1 The results of this research —the knowledge of workflow as a potential subset of actor-network theory— will be used in new works to achieve a deeper understanding and engagement with the various elements, trends, and structures which make up each new composition.
Date of AwardJul 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorPiers Hellawell (Supervisor) & Simon Mawhinney (Supervisor)

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