Call for papers at launch of CeNMaS

Another composer event taking place at Sheffield University:

The Centre for New Music at Sheffield (CeNMaS) is pleased to announce the call for the Sound Agendas Composers’ Conference 27th-29th April 2018 open to composers in and outside academia.

Presentations are invited in the form of:

• a 20-minute Paper with or without slides/audio/video/handouts (submit a 300-word abstract)

• a 5-minute Point-of-View with optional a single slide (will be grouped with other contributions and into a discussion session – submit a 150-word summary)

• a Poster with audio/video (submit a 150-word description)

More information can be found on Enquiries should be addressed

We look forward to reading your submission and/or welcoming you to Sheffield for this exciting weekend dedicated entirely to matters of current concern to composers and composition.


Invited Speaker: music and philosophy

On Nov 7th, I shall be talking at an event in Leeds called: Aesthetics of Computer Music: Changes in the Nature and Reception of Music. The event, which looks at some of the various ways in which computer music has challenged established notions of creativity, composition, performance, and authorship, is sponsored by the Centre for Aesthetics at The University of Leeds. It features talks by Andy Hamilton, Luke Windsor, and Freya Bailes. The day concludes with a round table discussion. For more information, see:

INAM selected at Destellos Competition

Last night, I found out that INAM was selected at the Destellos Competition in Argentina. It didn’t get any further, but I am delighted to see that Andy Lewis received First Prize for his piece Skyline. The same piece was recently selected by the British ElectroAcoustic Network (BEAN) as one of three works to represent British interests at the International Confederation of Electroacoustic Music AGM, to be held in Moscow in late Sept. The other pieces, chosen by an international jury, were by Andrew Hill and Nikos Stavropoulos.

For more information, see: 

Presentations at Sound+Environment

Last week, I gave a paper at the excellent Sound+Environment conference in Hull. The paper – which was co-authored by Amanda Crawley Jackson – focused on the Foundry project in which 7 composers created works relating to Furnace Park in Sheffield. I later performed my piece – Foundry Flux – in the evening concert. Here is the abstract:

Composing the Plastic City: a reflection on methods, motivations and meanings

In 2015, plastiCities – a network of artists, writers, researchers and academics with an interest in space and spatialities in art – commissioned a series of musical compositions based on a small patch of land on the edge of Sheffield. The patch of land, still home to one of the world’s oldest cementation furnaces, was once situated at the heart of the industrial city centre where it was engaged in the production of blister steel. Following the national decline of this industry, the land lay forgotten and derelict until a recent rediscovery, or re-imagination, of the space produced Furnace Park – a community park that invites reflection upon the changing nature of the city through the act of artistic engagement and activity.

plastiCities launched the commissions as part of their wider artistic agenda: “We believe that voices from the arts have a critical role to play in the ways in which our cities are designed, produced, distributed and lived. We do not treat the city as an object to be represented, but as a more-than representational plastic object, in the sculpting of which we all have a democratic right to intervene.” (plastiCities 2015 p.5). In this context, sound appears to be a perfect medium, particularly when plasticity may be enacted through the combined processes of recording, transforming and composing, as are often found in forms of sound art and electronic music. Despite this, the result of these processes were not intended to embellish the city with yet more public art, and nor were they intended to illuminate ways in which the city’s soundscape might be redressed. Instead, through the process of reflection, creation and engagement, the act of ‘doing’ was intended to encourage individuals to think of the city as artwork in and of itself.

This paper considers the various commissions in light of this project. It starts by elaborating the commission objectives, setting these alongside the aims of plastiCities. It goes on to address the act of composing in this context, paying particular attention to the one of the author’s works Foundry Flux (2015), particularly in terms of the compositional methods and the resulting form of the piece. It finishes by assessing the whole project alongside the stated aims; whilst the process of artistic engagement did (at least in some cases) necessitate (re)engagement with the city, this was often highly personalised and frequently opaque. The aims of the project, however, remain substantive and this paper concludes with a call for a great engagement with the city as a plastic work of art.

Ctrl c ‘winner’ at Ars Electronica Forum Wallis

Official press release:
Ars Electronica Forum Wallis Selection 2017
The 11th International Festival for New Music, Forum Wallis, takes place in 2017 from 1-5 June overlapping the Whitsun holiday in Leuk Castle, Switzerland. For the third time, an international competition for electronic compositions — launched in 2015 — is a feature of Forum Wallis: Ars Electronica Forum Wallis had again an overwhelming response:  181 entries from 32 countries. The full winner list is (in alphabetical order):

Fernando Alexis (Canada), Je me retrouve a la fin de mon chemin
Rocío Cano Valiño (Argentina), Tâches
Robert Fleisher (USA), Altro Alfresco
Panayiotis Kokoras (Greece), Construct Synthesis
Sangwon Lee (Korea), Rollyphony
Mei-Fang Lin (Taiwan/USA), Entre le Son et La Lumiere
Xavier Madore (Canada), Museler la honte avec du duct-tape
Xavier Madore (Canada), Ready about… Tacking
Clovis McEvoy (New Zealand), Flaneur
Marco Molteni (Italy),
Abril Padilla (Spain/Switzerland), Grimja
Paolo Pastorino (Italy), Dimensione Aggiuntiva
Jeremie Ricard (Canada), Corrosion Des Alliages
Adam Stanovic (UK), Ctrl c
Roberto Zanata (Italy), Pareidolia elettroacustica


Paper Presentation in Sweden

I have just returned from the Royal College of Music, in Sweden, where I delivered a paper on digitisation – abstract pasted below. An extended journal issue will be published in late 2017/early 2018 with the same title.

Expanding the Sphere of Irrelevance: musical works, recordings and their digitisations

Dr. Adam Stanović

The type-token theory enables philosophers of music to explain how musical performances, and more recently recordings, can remain faithful to a given work despite their inevitable differences. According to this theory, popularised by Richard Wollheim, works are types (abstract formations laden with properties) and their performances and recordings are tokens (concrete manifestations which, providing their properties correspond with those of the type, are deemed to be equally and ideally permissible as instances of the work in question) (Wollheim 1980). In most cases, tokens have substantially more properties than their corresponding types, and this serves to explain the notion of performance interpretation, and variability among recordings; the properties of types (works) are conditional and non-negotiable, but their tokens (performances and recordings) add additional properties to produce substantial variability. This observation is certainly not new; Roman Ingarden, for example, suggested that there is a “sphere of irrelevance” built in to each musical work which accounts for variability (Ingarden 1986, p.23; original 1931). More recent contributors have described musical works as thin types (Davies, 2004) that underdetermine the many details of their fully-formed tokens (Godlovich 1998; Scruton 1997).

The digitisation of performances and recordings requires an extension of this theory; the choice of microphone(s), hardware, software, the room and available acoustic, the choice of format or media, the digitisition format and distribution medium are but some of the many factors that potentiate variability. Vastly different digitisations may be drawn from the same performance or recording, depending how these variables are negotiated. With this in mind, it may seem sensible to refer to digitisations as tokens of tokens; digitisations are instances of performances or recordings which are, in turn, instances of works. A more sophisticated theory, however, considers performances and recordings as second-order types, for which digitisations are their tokens in their own right. Such a theory, elaborated in this paper, would serve to explain how the many variables involved in the production of digitisations substantially extends those associated with first-order types (works) and their performances and recordings. This observation does not merely account for the relations that hold between works, performances, recordings and their digitisations; it also suggests that the sphere of irrelevance must be extended, albeit in conceptual terms, to account for the ever-increasing variability that the age of digitisation has produced.