In September 2021, I will begin a PhD in Composition at Royal Northern College of Music PRiSM, the centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music, in association with the charity Drake Music.
The AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award is being continued in the name of the stunningly talented composer Lucy Hale, who originally conceived and proposed the research project and partnership with Drake Music. It is supported by the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership.
There’s so much to look forward to and I’m excited for what the project will bring. We will be focusing on creating accessible music-making processes with and by Disabled musicians, using experimentation and AI. The research aims were written in line with Lucy’s, who strongly advocated for disability equality and accessibility in music. I hope to share everything as the work progresses. I’m looking forward to working with a great supervisory team, led by composer Emily Howard (Director PRiSM).
Read more below and on the RNCM PRiSM news article.
Drake Music are a music charity leading the way in accessibility and technology for Disabled musicians. They support the development of new music, ideas, technology and creativity that is centred around making music more accessible. They have a history of proven success in widening access across the UK and have a large roster of associated artists, projects and resources.
The project will involve working and collaborating with Drake Music artists and Accessible Musical Instruments.
Lucy was an Associate Musician with Drake Music for a number of years and proposed and secured the funding for this collaborative doctoral award.
My proposal was written including Lucy’s original research aims, which primarily are to compose new music for Disabled musicians placing accessibility at the foundation of the process; to explore the use of AI and machine learning in accessible music-making, and create new repertoire for accessible musical instruments.
The lens through which I hope to explore this is my own experimental practice: highlighting how improvisation, graphic scores, chance procedures, site-specific works etc., are tools that allow for inclusivity and responsiveness by their very nature of being non-prescriptive and highly personal to the performer/composer/listener.
AI models will be interrogated for existing biases and potential for creating a ‘new’ and imagined ‘voice of disability’. The project will result in new works, installations, research and a manifesto on accessible music-making to be shared widely as a resource and reference.
The heart of the project are the performers, their perspectives and their individualities will direct the project.
Composer Lucy Hale is the originator, proposer and inspiration for this work. Lucy sadly passed away on 11 January 2021 before she could begin her proposed PhD. Her work and legacy is unforgettable, I would not be able to do this without her many achievements and I could not be more confident that our ideals and passions were strongly aligned.
Lucy was composer in residence at National Orchestra for All, associate composer for Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Resound project, and has composed a wealth of extraordinary music.
The project is being purposefully designed to be flexible, accessible and responsive to everyone involved, so it is difficult to know what will happen and I am embracing that reality as much as possible.
I worked very hard on the project proposal and felt very natural writing about Lucy’s research aims and my aims: they were and are one of the same.
It is difficult to express fully how I feel about this opportunity but the feelings that overwhelm are gratitude and excitement.
This project really is a dream come true.
The PhD as a personal and professional achievement is very secondary, I am thrilled to be able to work with Disabled musicians to create and explore accessible and experimental music.
What does a composition PhD have to do with anyone else but the composer? Well..lots, in this case! There will be multiple, ongoing opportunities for musicians, communities, students, improvisers, composers, young people to get involved in the project.
This project is about music being accessible, universal, representative. Much of the music will come from me, but it needs input from as many people as possible. More on that when it begins…
I hope there will be ways for anyone interested to stay up-to-date with the project, also more on that soon.
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