Andy Ingamells

updated 10.12.2013 by rrs

 
 

Loud Sinatra Gets ASBO For Deaf Gran, 87:




The following interview was conducted via email in September, 2013 by Ryan Ross Smith.


RRS: What was the first piece you created using animated notation?


AI: Cello Hero: Andy Ingamells Edition (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QOds8ppM-k). The video does not match up to what is being played, as I have no footage from the recording. Just gives an idea of what the player sees.

The score is made from 47 strips of paper, each with a 10x40 squared grid printed on. I applied coloured stickers to the grids. The stickers come in 4 colours (red, blue, green, yellow) and in dots and rectangles. I composed the patterns freely, sticking rectangles together to make longer lines and glissandi, and groups of dots to produce chords. I then stuck the strips together using tape to produce a long scroll of paper.

Performance instructions:

Tape a transparent plastic sheet to a music stand.

Feed the beginning of the scroll score behind the plastic sheet.

Pull the score through from right to left at the desired speed.

The cellist should play whatever part of the score is beneath the plastic sheet.

Top of the score indicates the highest possible pitch on the instrument, bottom of the score indicates the lowest possible pitch on the instrument.


4 colours indicate 4 different parameters. In this case:

red dots = loud pizzicato, red lines = loud arco

blue dots = soft pizzicato, blue lines = soft arco

yellow dots = short sul tasto, yellow lines = long sul tasto

green dots = col legno battuto, green lines = col legno tratto


RRS: What led you to start using animated notation? [This could be aesthetic/artistic concerns, technological experimentation, a bet and/or dare, etc.]


AI: Since 2007 I have been interested in making readymade compositions, trying to limit the amount of effort required to compose music. I thought that a solution would be to use MAX MSP as I had heard many composers used this as a tool. So I went for a lesson with live electronics composer (and MAX MSP expert). He told me that you should never use MAX if you can find a better alternative. Since then I have been finding alternatives and have never used MAX (or any other software).

John Cage's 1958 lecture 'Experimental Music' was/is an influence on my work: "Where do we go from here? Towards theatre." I tried to make scores that were part of the theatre of musical performance. New Street Counterpoint was my first piece featuring this. The making of the score was a performance in itself. I bought a pad of A3 paper, a marker pen, and a day-ticket for the Birmingham bus service. I then sat on a bus with the pen in my hand and allowed it to rest at the top of the paper, in the middle. I then slowly drew a line down the paper, allowing my hand to be moved by the motion of the bus. When I had completed 10 pages I got off the bus at the next stop and caught another one. Later on I stuck a blue dot wherever the ink had congealed.

This score could then be played by reading from top to bottom, treating the middle of the page as middle C on a keyboard and tracing the line with a paint roller (see score). I initially wanted to make this into a video score, with the wiggly line scrolling up a screen so it could be traced in real-time. But I didn't know how to do this, and realised that a better solution would be to integrate the gesture of page-turning into the performance. Page-turning is usually quite funny anyway, especially when a player does it wrong and makes a mess of it. So I attached photocopies of the 61 pages onto a single canvas using string, so that the players could rip off each page as they finished it.

I lived with Jazz players for 4 years and even though I didn't really like the sound of Jazz I admired the way strangers could immediately play music together without rehearsal. I wanted the same for people like me; a musical language that could be played by experts and non-experts at the same time. This led me to making scrolling scores like Cello Hero, Dozen it make you sick, Loud Sinatra gets ASBO for deaf gran 87; and reading-things-from-everyday-life-as-scores scores such as Solo, Private Hire and HAZARD MUSIC.


RRS: Where there particular compositions/notational approaches/technologies/video games/etc. that exerted any influence over your [early and/or present] work?


AI: Morton Feldman's graph scores (like Intersection I) inspired the look of my scroll scores, but they operate in a different way. The scores also look a bit like a poor-man's Guitar Hero. At the time of making the first scrolling score (April 2010) I had read/heard about a painter who made huge abstract canvases and sold them by the metre. I liked the idea of composing music by the metre, rather than composing pieces individually. I can't now remember that artist's name, but was drawn to the idea of making a lot of music in a short amount of time. This is not really 'mass produced' but more akin to Damien Hirst's spot paintings, which are hand painted by a group of assistants, but look mass produced. Ultimately I hoped to have assistants make my scroll scores for me, so that I would not need to compose the patterns. In keeping with the idea that they are arbitrarily composed, the titles of my scroll pieces (with the exception of Cello Hero) are taken from the headline of the Sun (UK tabloid) newspaper on the day the piece is given to performers.

Solo features a pre-recorded video projection of my face as I masturbate. This is used as a timing device for the piece, and was inspired by Blowjob by Andy Warhol. The reading-things-from-everyday-life-as-scores scores could be seen as attempts to follow Allen Kaprow in his recording How to make a Happening, focussing on the connection between musical action and everyday life (although I imagine Kaprow would dismiss my work as being too musical). Kaprow states: "Nature can never appear formless because of the way the brain is made, so why worry?". This allowed me to simplify the form of my pieces, just giving a beginning and ending and not cluttering them with too many ideas. If I have a new idea I make a new piece.

Kaprow describes the Yellow Pages as the "greatest source-book of our time". I think that youtube comes a close second, especially for stealing ideas.


RRS: How would you describe your current work with animated notation?


AI: Scrolling scores

My ambition with the paper scrolling scores was to outsource the composition of the graphics to other people. Over the past year I have experimented with two ways of achieving this. The first was for a performance by an ensemble of accomplished musicians in a fancy venue (the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam). I was assigned to work alongside a sceneographer to produce the piece and decided to have the patterns composed during the performance. A hand-operated conveyor belt was produced, with a camera and projector set up halfway along it. Patterns could be arranged at one end of the conveyor and would be projected onto a screen as they passed the camera. The composition would then be destroyed once it had been played as the objects fell to the floor on the other end of the conveyor (see video of Loud Sinatra gets ASBO for deaf gran 87 for a better idea of what it looked like). The principals of reading the coloured graphic notation remained the same as for reading the paper scrolling scores (see above).

The second method I tried was convincing members of the public to compose a small about of paper scrolling score in exchange for beer. This piece (Free as in beer) was a little less serious in tone, due to the fact that it was performed in a less fancy venue (Vrije Academie in The Hague). I wanted to give the appearance that the production process was automated, so constructed a fake vending machine that would accept completed paper strips and automatically dispense beer. In fact it was just myself sat inside a large metal box, sticking the paper strips together whilst pouring beer from a keg into plastic cups. This solution was less 'elegant' than the Muziekgebouw piece, but I preferred it. The paper scroll had gotten damp inside the 'machine' and began to rip when the piece was finally performed at the end of the evening. At this point members of the public rushed to assist the performers in sticking the paper back together and helping them to continue playing the score. The machine was not a convincing illusion, and it quickly became obvious that somebody was inside, but this seemed to amuse people as they attempted to interact with whichever poor soul had the job of serving them beer.

Reading-things-from-everyday-life-as-scores scores.

Following Solo, in which I copied the penetrations of internet porn on a slide whistle, I made several other pieces related to translating visible things into musical actions. The first of these was Private Hire where the traffic lights are read as fingerings for the top 3 holes of a recorder. Pieces like this are easy to devise and have been helpful in developing a 'common practice' in my group Ensemble Lös Caballeros; something I had thought about whilst living with Jazz players (mentioned earlier).

Sport Music: Pétanque (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahxd8hyis-U), written with Ensemble Lös Caballeros, is the main piece I have been involved with that uses this technique. The notation is a game of pétanque, where the impacts of the balls signify that a sound effect should be played on a keyboard. This process is revealed during the running commentary on the game, delivered by the keyboard player. See the score for further details. This is really the culmination of the reading-things-from-everyday-life-as-scores method, whereby the notation is the theatrical content of the piece.

Another recent piece is HAZARD MUSIC. Here the 2 performers read the audience as a score at their own speed. They trace the outline of the bodies of the audience using tanks of propane, including any movements the audience happen to make. Top of the head = maximum volume, empty seats = minimum volume. The piece was to be played by professional percussionists, who were initially hesitant to perform such an indeterminate piece with such limited content. They thought that they may as well just be improvising. But my Caballeros ensemble-mate Jeremiah Runnels gave me a nice lesson in rehearsal technique. I was to say to the players that performing indeterminate notation such as this is like telling something very important to somebody you really care about. Perhaps telling somebody that you love them for the very first time, or asking somebody to marry you. You can't pre-script what you want to say because that would be crass and spoil the spontaneity of the situation. But you cannot just improvise either! You have to be sincere.


RRS: Where do you see your work with animated notation going in the future?


AI: I will keep using this kind of notation until I find a better solution for writing the music that allows me to play/compose. At the moment this is the most satisfying method that I have.

I would like to individually record an orchestra of players playing their own version of a scrolling score. Then I would have each recording transcribed electronically and made into music notation. I could then use this material like Lego bricks to make lots of "normal" looking pieces that I could enter into prestigious composition competitions. Perhaps I might even win.

About

music etc.? "[1]

1. "About," andyingamells.com, accessed November 30, 2013, http://andyingamells.com/about/.


 

 
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