Hello! 2022 was a crazy year of so many wonderful things that I’m truly grateful for. This is Part 1, which is stuff that happened to me or that I was part of; Part 2 (coming soon) will be a look at other people’s work I enjoyed this year.
This is generally in chronological order…
I had the (slightly overwhelming) joy of going to IRCAM in Paris for their Annual Ateliers du Forum in March. I saw some great music and art and learnt a huge amount more about Machine Learning for music. They introduced me to SOMAX 2, the IRCAM neural network generative improvisation Max patch. I did some experiments with it and particularly liked its improvisation with my turntable performance:
Residency in Grasmere
In May I completed a 3-day residency in the Lake District with my PhD funding body, the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership. I was working with other PhD students to develop and present a project proposal to the Wordsworth Grasmere Museum. It was a lovely few days of walks, swimming and meeting other amazing arts researchers.
Australian Art Orchestra x hcmf Residency
I had an absolute blast on this residency with the Australian Art Orchestra and other UK-based improvisers at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. It was particularly special to learn about indigenous Australian musical traditions and improvise with a singer and didgeridoo player. It culminated with a gig at DAI Hall in Huddersfield on 16 June.
Throughout the year I had the pleasure of performing in Manchester, Huddersfield, Cambridge and Birmingham. Looking to get more gigs in next year across the UK to bring the noisy abstract turntable chaos to other communities. Thanks to everyone who booked me for a gig and other performers who joined me.
Sensory Record Making Workshop
CRIPtic Arts ran their Lewisham Festival in July, where I ran a Sensory Record Making Workshop for neurodivergent and disabled people. We started by exploring the turntable as a sound-making object, moved onto sounding materials with a contact mic and creating a sensory record with different materials that would be played on a record player. We then looked at how to record and lathe our own mini records. It was a lot of fun and hopefully more workshops will happen in the coming year!
WALSHE: THE TEXT SCORE DATASET
On 13 September at IKLECTIK myself, James Creed, James McIlwrath, Peter Nagle and Neil Luck performed pieces from Jennifer Walshe’s ‘The Text Score Dataset’, an anthology of AI-generated text scores. It was one of the best gigs I’ve done and I’m very proud of all the work everyone put in. We had a great turnout and hope to see a review in the coming few months…
Outlier II for Distractfold, Elle Chante and Luke Moore
On 25 October at Royal Northern College of Music Distractfold, Elle Chante and Luke Moore premiered my first PhD piece, Outlier II. I had been working on the scores and material and been in rehearsals for a full year so it was a big moment. For audio visuals, violin, clarinets, guitar, cello, bass and vocals, Outlier II explores the generalisation process of AI and, using chance techniques, develops an AI-generated melody. I’m lucky to have worked with such open, giving musicians. There will be a video ready of the performance for everyone to enjoy in January!
New York Times
I was in the New York Times! My name and one of my scores were printed in the actual New York Times. Myself, Luke and Elle were interviewed about Outlier II composition and rehearsal process and disability in music. This was part of a feature by Hugh Morris on music technology and disability that also discussed other really important, impressive work being done in Europe. But I still can’t get over being printed in one of the biggest newspapers in the world, crazy. I ordered a physical copy to keep.
New Orleans, AMS-SEM-SMT Annual Conference
In November I checked off a travel bucket list item when I visited New Orleans, Louisiana, to speak at the annual AMS-SEM-SMT conference. As part of a session on disability in music, I gave a talk entitled ‘Toward a Universal Composition: Putting Accessibility at the Start of the Creative Process’ in which I discussed the process of composing Outlier II. It was really interesting discussing the drawbacks of Artificial Intelligence and explaining how accessibility was the first and foremost consideration when creating and rehearsing the piece. Rather than being a step at the end of the process, or an unconsidered factor, accessibility drove the piece. More on that as my PhD continues to unfold.
And yes New Orleans is amazing. I met some lovely people, had some great food, drank a lot and went to jazz bars. Saw an alligator. Check check check.
Yeah! I played at hcmf! Artistic Director, Graham Mackenzie, invited me to perform as part of the hcmf shorts on Monday 21 November when we met during the AAO residency earlier in the year. I suitably impressed him with my noisy turntable nonsense, so there must be something in it. Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival really is an institution and an important milestone in my career. Had a great turn-out at Huddersfield Town Hall, amazing feedback and theoretically it was recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 – I doubt that will come to fruition because of copyright concerns and triggering content in my performance but you never know. I also saw loads of great performances but more on that in part 2.
I composed the piece Side A/B specifically for the hcmf performance.
Fly the Flag
I spent a few weeks composing the score for the short film, Fly The Flag, produced by Fuel Theatre and filmed by Bim Ajadi. The film is made up of responses from young people regarding the right to protest and human rights in the UK.
There’s a trailer available and the film will be available soon here: https://digital.fueltheatre.com/events/fly-the-flag-2022/
Self, Sense, Space Residency
Facilitated by Brighter Sound and Nwando Ebizie, I was one of a few disabled multi-disciplinary artists to take part in a residency at the People’s History Museum in Manchester. We had 4 days to create and install something in response to the current exhibition, ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ looking at the history of disability rights in the UK.
I worked with animator Rosie Woolaghan to create Brain Space – an immersive audiovisual tactile piece that was installed in the museum. It incorporated projected digital animation, installed hanging materials and surround-sound. It was wonderfully colourful and hypnotic. Here’s the info:
Brain Space is an audiovisual assimilation of perceptual differences. This results in experiencing shifts in reality, and multiple versions of reality. Both artists experience visual disturbances, Megan (composer) also experiences auditory hallucinations. The piece combines projected digital stop motion animation of abstract shapes, by Rosie (animator), and sonic art abstract noise, by Megan. The animated visuals are projected onto physical realisations of the visual disturbances experienced by the artists. This is combined with audio that is a sonic manifestation of Megan’s auditory hallucinations. Brain Space breaks up the depth of field of the surrounding environment, in order to layer reality and non-reality.
BBC Radio 4: The Chatterleys
I was asked to compose the score to 2 episodes of a new radio drama for BBCR4, The Chatterleys. Based on ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ by DH Lawrence, I used some guitar, strings and electronics to create this impactful score. I can’t wait to hear the end results which will be broadcast on Sunday 29 January 2023 and Sunday 5 February 2023 at 3pm on both days on BBC Radio 4.
What’s up 2023?!
The Chatterleys will broadcast on Radio 4, and I will be working on my new piece This is happening for Kathryn Williams (flute) and Sonia Allori (EWI) that will premiere at RNCM on 3 February. I will also begin new pieces for my PhD to be performed and recorded later in the year with talented disabled musicians from across the UK.
Speaking of 3 February…I am curating Lucy Hale Day at RNCM, Manchester, which will be a free day of music, technology and disability. Expect performances, a workshop, film, talks and installation. Book your tickets here before they run out! It will be as accessible as possible. I’ll be posting about this over the next few weeks.
Keep an eye on my concerts listings page and Soundcloud / Bandcamp / Instagram where I upload whatever I’m working on.