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At Home With The Binghams Part 2

My first task of today was to listen to a recording that Steve had made of an Arvo Part composition entitled Spiegel Im Spiegel. Interestingly he’d used an audio to MIDI converter to double one of his violin lines with a synthesizer line. This added an ethereal quality to the recording that I very much liked. As Steve is no expert on synthesizers, he asked me to sit down with the track and tweak and add sounds as I saw fit, this was an interesting challenge and I relished the opportunity to explore a new piece. Steves initial electronic work was interesting but was slightly too monotonous for a piece intended to span 14 minutes. I therefore applied a little arranging skill to my sound design and began using electronic sounds sparingly in order to allow the piece to build and develop. I worked on this for approximately an hour before Steve returned to listen to my progress. He enjoyed my work and commended me on my arrangement.

We were then visited by Victoria Soames Samek, a friend of the Steve and a clarinet player. She was preparing to perform Narcissus, a piece composed by Thea Musgrave for clarinet and electronic delay. A self admitted technophobe, Victoria wanted input from both Steve and myself on the best ways to go about performing this piece. She had brought her laptop with a custom – made software delay. After setting up a microphone and monitor, we proceeded to run through the piece. Throughout this ‘rehearsal’ we explored the software plugin and altered it according to Victoria’s tastes. After this, Victoria quizzed us both on control hardware that she could purchase for ease of performance. As somewhat of an expert in live MIDI control, Steve had plenty of answers and solutions.

Once Victoria left, Steve gave me a tour of his live-looping setup. I was intrigued as it is not a form of music creation I’ve attempted myself. He explained his hardware, a series of MIDI control pedals, expression pedals and hardware delays. He also explained the software he uses “SooperLooper”, I found this fascinating and was anxious to test its limits. Although those limits weren’t tested, Steve did oblige me with a short demonstration. It was during this time that Steve asked me to compose a piece for live looped violin. Although I’ve not yet started to compose it at the time of writing this, I am excited at the prospect of broadening my compositional horizons and look forward to starting work on it.

To finish off this day, I asked Steve his opinion on some of my work, as I like to get a fresh perspective. I showed him “A Timelord Christmas” a piece in which I’d built up a 100 piece ensemble from 13 musicians. He enjoyed the recording and gave me a few suggestions for future recordings of this nature, but overall commented that it served its purpose very well and was ultimately successful in its intentions. During this conversation about my work, I saw an opportune moment to talk about orchestral contracting as it may apply to a project I have coming up in the following year. We discussed the payment of an orchestra, hire of an appropriate recording space, the hire of a recording engineer and sufficient equipment to complete recordings. I left the conversation feeling satisfied that I could make use of a live orchestra, should the opportunity present itself.

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