Talking About My New Composition. Solo In Red

Some very exciting news. In August of 2012 acclaimed Melbourne ensemble Collider will be performing a piece entitled Solo In Red, written by myself. The piece will be performed as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival program over 3 nights at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

“Kynan Robinson’s new piece Solo in Red is both astoundingly beautiful and original. Setting out to capture the atmospheres of a Cormac McCarthy novel it does all that and more.” – Vierre Magazine 2011

I prepared a statement for media discussing the work which reads as follows.

“With my new piece, Solo in Red, I feel as thoughI have found the creative and artistic expression/voice i have been searching for my entire career.The piece takes its inspiration from the writings of the hugely important American author Cormac McCarthy.My collision with McCarthy’s writing came at a time when I was formulating my ideas for this piece of music. In McCarthy’s work I found a literary parody for my musical concepts; the themes and atmospheres he creates, that so absorb you as a reader, were very similar to what i was interested in creating. Image

McCarthy’s writing and the atmosphere he creates has a sparseness, detachment and tension and is always touched with a dry wit. He presents both the absolute beauty and absolute ugliness of existence, often within the same sentence. To me his works sits somewhere in the place of the spirit world and if you enter it it will often bring forth both frightening and peaceful truths. 
In the composition of Solo In Red I am making a very personal statement on life and it’s deep sadness, only matched by its overwhelming beauty.
The many elements of this show, including performing with the incredible ensemble Collider  plus the breath taking multimedia component which includes lighting plus the most beautiful and lush video projections, (produced by Dotahn Caspi, Sean Kelly and Michelle Robinson) will all lend themselves to an experience that is both powerful and transporting for any audience member.
I am very excited to be presenting my new work at the Melbourne Recital Center and as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival. The Recital Center has many great memories for me both as a performer and audience member. It is a building of such beautiful dynamics and delightful aesthetics that it is almost the perfect place to hear this work.”To book tickets to the show you can click on the following link

 

You can also read about the development of the multimedia and actually contribute towards the costs if you feel so philanthropic. You can either pledge support – (there are some great rewards – especially to those interested in attending the Melbourne Writers Festival Paperback and Hardback passes valued at $90 and $325 respectively) OR if you can’t contribute financially – no problems at all – but all we ask is that you spread the word!

Pledge support via our Pozibles site or simple share the link via email, fbook, twiiter or any other means :http://www.pozible.com/collider

It is a costly process to produce these large scale works and your contributions to the Arts are very very appreciated.

If you would like to  purchase a copy of the bands original album click here
Kynan

The Escalators


The Escalators is my latest ensemble and something I’m very proud of. I started my masters in composition in 2007 and am very close to completing it. My main achievement through this process was the creation of The Escalators and the subsequent music written for it. The band has recorded our debut CD which is now available from our myspace site. This Sunday we are performing all the music at a concert at my warehouse (see the myspace page for details)
I was required to write a series of compositions an then write an exsegesis of the process which I am going to upload parts of to this blog over the next couple of weeks.

The band The Escalators together with the music uniquely composed for it, emerged from a key area of research, sample-based music and its relationship to human memory. The strategy of triggering memory with the use of existing musical recordings has been the dominant determining factor of the music. Additionally a number of other interests, have been influential. These include:
1. the film and TV work of David Lynch and the atmosphere it generates
2. structured improvisation
3. aspects of minimalism
4. a desire to compose in a style radically different from anything I had produced previously
5. the possibility of creating an ensemble and a recording that I could sell to a wider audience

These concepts defined the bands composition and makeup.

The Escalators’ distinctive identity is a consequence of crossing once-sacred style boundaries. In using samples, a composer can create hybrids that were previously unthinkable. This has the capacity to produce new, unique and personalised musical identities.

Concept development, writing the music and choosing the musicians for the Escalators commenced in 2007. There are two reasons for the name. Firstly, for me the name elicits the feeling of a constant returning to the same place, likewise, in my opinion, sample-based music also seems to have this effect. It creates memory confusion and a sense of return. The second and less obvious reason was Escalators starts with the letter E. All my jazz/improvisation groups have had names starting with the letter E (En Rusk, Escargone, The Electricians, so now the Escalators). Doing this creates a sense of uncertainty in those who have followed my career, as well as a slight confusion when talking about one band compared to another. The state of minimal uncertainty or subtle confusion is something that has always interested me.

The ensemble consists of Pat Thiel playing trumpet, Mark Hannaford playing piano, Joe Talia playing drums, Mick Meagher playing electric bass, Lawrence Folvig on electric guitar, DJ Element playing turntables/sampler, and me on trombone.

At the early stages of development the shared improvising/compositional language that the players possess has allowed me to rapidly explore concepts. It has helped me decide what to keep and what to discard. It frees me up from having to constantly produce physical written work that might or might not be kept, thus saving me time in decision making and allowing for a more flexible, responsive approach to the final pieces. The distinguished clarinetist Anthony Pay states “I am the sort of player who is more disposed to start off from the accuracy point of view rather than starting off from the musical point of view. You can with some modern music start off and say : ‘I’m not going to pay any attention to the notational aspects of it, but initially I am going to decide what the music is about, the gestures – and language – the sort of thing, if you are improvising, you have to deal with.’ Now, I tend when I’m approaching a modern score, to start off by trying to get, as accurately as I can, what he’s actually put down on paper.” (Bailey 1992, 67-68) That premise is precisely what I want to avoid.

Movie making, soundtracks, literacy the whole lot

I’ve uploaded a video (below) that gives you an example of something I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.
This was a task I was doing with grade 6 students that used Imovie and Garageband, two great programs that come with the ILife bundle for macs.
The kids imported photos into IMovie, they wrote a short story that related to their selection of photos and recorded that story in using the recording facilities within IMovie. finally they wrote a soundtrack in Garageband to accompany the movie (in Garageband) exported the music as an MP3 dragged it into I Movie and off we went. We talked a lot about the appropriateness of the music to the film, the role of the soundtrack and how it was to enhance the visuals not overwhelm them.
We also had a huge number of technical issues which is often the case and actually quite beneficial for the students to experience.

There was so many things involved in this project such as literacy skills (creative writing), editing, music composition, multimodal learning, authentic learning, investigation and presentation, rendering, teamwork, saving to a network, folder creation, troubleshooting technical issues, leadership, importing and exporting of files, learning different file types.

http://fnps.fliggo.com/embed/iYaz1nRm

Space Compositions

In Grade two we have been working on vocal compositions. This is where you draw shapes on the whiteboard and find appropriate vocal sounds to match (an early form of notational teaching). We also invented shapes to represent loud and soft and duration. We then incorporated some of this learning into the theme of space and added some sounds from the marimba that could be translated into variouse movements. Finally we made masks to make our short performance look cool and filmed it.

This is a great way to introduce children to the concepts of composition – using their voice, using sounds that can be made on the instruments having some simple notation and finally performing.

Heres the video

http://fnps.fliggo.com/embed/BFb3PDBs

Bunbury Holidays


The first gig we played on this tour was in a placecalled Bunbury in a joint called The Prince of Wales, while the gig itself was as uneventful as the place I did have one interesting experience which might sum up the gig, Bunbury, and in fact most of Western Australia. On arrival and after eight hours of travel getting to this Mecca of sterility we stumbled in the back door of the hotel. Right in front of the stage sat 4 old people, all well into their eighties, all drinking beer from a pint glass all complaining loudly about the noise we might be about to make. I was immediately enamoured by this sight so I sat down with them and got chatting. We made some decent conversation despite the obvious inhibitors created by the hearing aids and my mumbling and I discovered that this group of 4 was once a group of 20 and had been travelling down to this pub from Perth by train every year to attend the Bunbury races (trots and normal horses). The absence of the other 16 members of the group was due to death which I was loudly informed by the only women who hadn’t as yet spoken, would happen to me sometime so I had better get used to it (I presume she was talking about old age preceding death but it doesn’t matter). I wished them all the best, told them not to loose to much money and headed off to my room. Strange place to come for a holiday I thought, this was no pleasant English country pub rather a dank smelling beer drenched pub, the walls covered in posters of other touring bands, the flat screen TVs adorning the walls blaring out video hits and announcements of the weekly bingo games or dog racing and where I believe one of the owners of the sound system is currently doing some time because of an untimely death to one of his ex mates. Oh well I though, maybe it was different 40 years ago.

The next morning I got up, showered the headach out of my head, and not daring to sample the breakfast on offer I decided to go for a walk. I had to pass through the hotel and here were the 4 elderly people sitting around the same table with beers in hand and empty glasses on the table in front of them. “Are you heading off to the races?” I asked after some cordial small talk.
“No Why would we do that,” they answered, “we’ve never been. We’ve got all we want here, beer, there’s no crowd (there was defiantly none of that) and the race is on the TV all day.

“Fantastic” I thought, what a great 40 year annual holiday you can have in this part of the world.

Students as composers

remy-ruby-and-saskias-piece As a very good example of children as composers here is a composition written and played by 5 grade six students. They were given a one hour class to come up with this piece and then performed nd recorded it at the end. You can hear it is written for four parts with both an A and a B section. These children have been with us for the five years I have been teaching at Fitzroy North PS so are very used to the idea that they are composers, an idea that myself and fellow teacher Andrew Williamson really believe in and try to teach . It was exciting for me to hear this composition as it justified alot of the philosophy

Data collection and Teching

I have noticed in my role as a music teacher that there has been a recent swing away from open ended, student driven learning to data driven, closed, assessment and results driven learning. When I started teaching I was so excited to learn that things had moved from the draconian days when I was a child, at the same time I was warned that everything in teaching goes in cycles and I have now been a part of the institution to see the first turn.
Once again things such as task completion and surprise, surprise “Spelling” assessment have taken over in the scale of importance from concepts such as deeper level thinking and the encouragement of “ideas”.
I love data collection because it shows us whatever it is we want it to show us and justify whatever it is we want to justify, including bad teaching and wow does it make us feel so much better about ourselves to be able to carry around reams of useless paper with various results on them.
We feel better about our sad selves because of the amount of work it took to get all those results.
Sad Sad Sad small world

How to make money on new years

The experiences of a musician for hire are the same the world over. A never ending uncertainty concerning every single gig and added to that a general scense of weirdness surrounding almost every gig. Here’s a tale that gives you a taste.
Once a year on the 15th of December I get a phone call. The man on the other end of the line is a fat, very wealth restaurateur who never has any idea who I am despite the fact the fact he has called me every year on this exact date for the last 5 years.
“ Hi is This ahhh how do you say your name, Kynan, is it” he says with the sort of tone that comes from a man who has always been pigeonholed as a jolly fellow.
“yes it is , hi Alf good to speak to you again”
“Ah good, hi Kynan, you don’t know me , Adam Simmons gave me your number. You see we have a new years bash at my house every year, lots of fun, my wife likes to have a brass band at it, I want Adam Simmons but it seems he’s very busy, he’s very good that guy I love listening to him. Anyway he tells me you might be able to organise something. Is that something you could do. Get my wife a brass band for my New Years bash.”
“Of course”
“Good good good, now get some trumpets saxophones drums the whole lot play some music, have a drink you’ll love it. Now I want American Patrol – you know that song Da Da Da dumda da. Of course you know it, the wife loves it so play that oh and also the Peter Gun tune play that. I don’t care what else you play. Actually if you just want to play those two and just keep playing them that’s fine with me, especially that Peter Gun. What do you play?”
“Trombone”
“Oh right oh, ok, bring one of those along…and some drums saxophones, oh I’m sure you know what your doing, just get American Patrol OK. Right see you then but 11.”
And the phone goes dead.
This conversation isn’t all that dissimilar to any other weird gig promoter who has his own delusional ideas of what makes a great event except that it comes around like clockwork every year, word for word, and no matter what I try to do each year big Alf blocks me out of his memory without blocking the routine.
So I make a few phone calls get a baritone sax, a trumpet, and two marching band drummers and we show up to his mansion at about 11.00 on new years.
The party atmosphere is unchanging from year to year, about 15 people sitting around looking fairly unenthused despite the surrounding madness. When we enter the house pushing past the collection of choristers that are lining the staircase getting ready for their set Alf come s striding up , arm outstretched, huge feathers sticking out of what must be regarded in some quarters as a hat, shirt open revealing the grey haired mat on his leather chest.
“You must be Kynan” he bellows.
“Yep the same as last year”
“Right heres the routine after the choir finishes you guys come on for about an hour set, that be right with you? Great what do you think of my hat. I got this this at the set of Pricilla Queen of the dessert. I’ll put my fire mans hat on in a while. Help yourself to anything, You want to come out and see my Lamborghini? What do you think of my chandelier, had it imported from Italy I hate it. I’ve got some costumes I want you to wear, go get changed in that spare bedroom. The chandelier cost me thousands, hundreds of thousand, the wife wanted it. See you when your ready.” Even with his huge fat voice he still has to speak louder than usual to bellow over the police bagpipe and drum band he has performing in the kitchen. This seems like no place for a police outfit unless you were wearing a skirt which this ones conveniently are.

Same drill as last year which we follow to the letter.

And come out charging determined to blow the 15 drowsily drunk guests off there feet. We start with a calypso number which on its conclusion draws an immediate response from Alf
“Alright boys enough of that just give us American Patrol followed by Peter Gun and loudly.”
So we do for the next hour at which stage it is the comedians turn.
When its over Alf stuffs wads of 50 and 100 dollar bills into my hand tells me he loves it. And says. I don’t think we’ll bother with that Adam Simmons next year, we’ll just get you.

Lats night I played a gig with one of the most unusual pop bands I’ve ever experienced
10000 killed in Chile. Check them out their great