Vergara Valdés, Juan (2018) Composing Lines. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

My work as a composer over the course of my PhD studies has focused on developing novel approaches to the notion of ‘line’ in music. This portfolio of compositions, composed between 2013 and 2017, is accompanied by a commentary that presents the conceptual ideas underlying my work with lines, from both a technical and aesthetic perspective. In this approach, the most novel element resides in the fact that lines function here often not as metaphor but as literal objects.

Throughout the text a range of different conceptions of lines are presented, providing a contextual and explanatory panorama for the compositional work. A line is understood in this context as a sustained sound that changes at a slow but perceptible rate, its ‘line-ness’ defined principally by its continual and smooth character. The approach undertaken consists of first conceiving lines as single entities, thoroughly exploring aspects such as their materiality, physicality, plasticity and fragmentability, in which their objective quality is gradually revealed and exploited further compositionally.

The commentary is divided roughly in half, initially proposing a series of types or families of lines, and then moving on to discuss the behaviour of those lines and the ways in which lines can be organized compositionally. First, various linemodels are addressed, including the geological-line, the polychromatic-line, the thread-line, and the drawing-line, each typified in relation to a particular piece from the portfolio. I then present the idea of the ‘pixelation’ of lines from both vertical and horizontal perspectives, unveiling the extended resonant potential of fragmented lines. Later, certain combinatorial possibilities are pursued, giving rise to emergent behaviours of blurriness or in fluid-like textures characterized by permeability and motion. Throughout, I contextualize these musical approaches with references to other disciplines—especially the visual arts—helping to illustrate the ideas and concepts presented.

Vergara Valdes FINAL THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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