AMN Reviews: Bore – Issue 2

This second number of Bore, the publication of predominantly text-based scores edited by Sarah Hughes and David Stent, arrives bearing a generous sampling of compositions by Tim Parkinson and James Saunders. As with the first number, this one puts its scores in a format designed to be used the composers intended—a welcome invitation to the reader to participate in the realization of the works included.

Parkinson, a London-based composer, curator and pianist whose works have been performed internationally by Apartment House, the London Sinfonietta, Rhodri Davies, Stefan Thut and Anton Lukoszevieze among others, is represented here by the scores to four Songs (2011) for two performers. The songs largely consist of texts drawn from a consumer survey which are spoken, chanted and shouted, and accompanied by clapping, drumming and other gestures. In addition, the performers are to strike, stir and drop objects at given times. The scores include verbal instructions specifying the conditions and durations of each song as well as pages of music notation showing the rhythms and phrasing to use for the texts’ delivery. The texts make for a droll narrative of prosaic preoccupations both essential and trivial—and sometimes both at the same time. Delivered under the conditions of controlled chaos that the instructions seem to want to create, the Songs stand as a dramatically heightened articulation of things we do or feel, without ordinarily giving them voice or thought.

James Saunders—whom we recently interviewed—contributes two sets of scores, one set verbal and one set graphic. The verbal scores—formatted, in a nice touch, as recipe cards—are sets of instructions for large ensembles of players using sound-generating objects and percussion instruments. The instructions specify sound durations and qualities, as well as rules for interactions among the ensemble’s members. The compositions’ major formal elements would appear to be timbre and density, to be shaped through phrasing and layering. The graphic scores consist of two iterations of Object Network, a piece for ten objects of the performer’s choice which are to be moved around the scores’ surfaces according to rules given in an accompanying sheet. The resulting sounds will be a function of the objects’ weight, material composition, surfaces, etc., and of the pressure used to move them. Although the instructions don’t call for contact microphones, amplification could add an interesting layer of variables to those already present.

Even with the ready availability of exploratory scores on such sites as, there’s still nothing like being able to hold and use scores produced with such careful attention to quality.

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