Miller, Cassandra (2018) Transformative Mimicry: Composition as Embodied Practice in Recent Works. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This commentary accompanies a portfolio of compositions created between 2014 and 2018, and describes two methods of transformative mimicry: transcription (used in the notated compositions) and automatic singing (non-notated embodied research). Transformative mimicry refers to an act of imitating, translating, or tracing that is both transformative and generative. In the first method, transcription, recordings of live musical performances are used as borrowed source material, and the notate-able details of their vocality are translated (i.e., transformed through imprecise imitation) through the technology of notation. The second method, automatic singing, involves variations of vocalising-while-listening-whilemeditating (i.e., imprecise vocal mimicry), in an iterative process that generates a resonance between melodic sound and interoceptive experience. This commentary is organised around a close analysis of three sets of work. In the first set of compositions, referred to collectively as Research Phase 1, my role is that of a composer behind a desk. The making of the next set of work, in Research Phase 2, involves myself as an untrained singer on stage, or myself as an uncomposerly director creating music together with a performer–collaborator. I combine these two areas of practice in a short Research Phase 3, which opens the door to future explorations.

This commentary details not only my own practice as a composer but also its associated technique and knowledge, with the aim of addressing the following Guiding Questions: What knowledge structures my practice of notating? When notating is cast aside, which areas of technique replace it? How can one describe the knowledge that structures my non-notated or post-notated compositional practice? On this methodological foundation, I provide a detailed commentary on the processes involved in the making of each piece. I then compare and contrast the making-processes through an exploration of three musical tools common to each piece: the relationship between melody and repetition; the distillation of musical material and meditative focussing-in; and types of unison and togetherness (accord and attunement). The dissertation concludes by reflecting on the Guiding Questions, and by proposing areas for future development.

FINAL THESIS - Miller.pdf - Accepted Version
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