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CD cover image piano 510
water -david cunningham

writing on water

The music on this CD was recorded for film, television, dance or other purposes under a variety of conditions. Some pieces began as a speculation in the studio, some were made to picture and some are reworks or reductions of other work.

The instruments are mostly acoustic sources usually subjected to processes which derive from the malleability of tape as a physical medium. Occasionally there is the sound of a recognizable instrument, but the rest of the sound is a false acoustic space of treated sounds looping, delaying, reversing and being stretched and overlaid in various ways.

The choice of input material for these processes comes in part from the relationship of this music to context, to the slow and ambient nature of the film and television images it originally served as atmosphere, counterpoint or sub-text.

Within these structures texture, continuity and acoustic space are as important as melody or harmony - an example is the way that many of the tracks fade in and out creating the possible context of an unheard continuity, a time-based frame which can imply unheard music before and after the known material.

Here the listener is removed from direct reference to physical space, that being an act of imagination. One principle behind this (usually incorporated unconsciously), is to create the opportunity for the listener to explore a method of listening which is not based on the prescriptive nature of classical form or that of European art music.

Whilst the aesthetic of a recorded orchestra suggests an acoustic reality, this music is, in part, attempting to alter that reality to suggest or imply an unknown or impossible acoustic space, to allow associations which are not possible within the concert hall such as a set of relationships between music and the natural world.

Much of the music is created in such a way that the structure of the sounds is deliberately simple, allowing the illumination of aspects of the sound or texture that would not be so apparent with conventional melody, in a way attempting to explore inside the sound -this is best seen on tracks 1, 3 and 13, (and in a related way, track 8), where sounds are repeated at different pitches in such a way that the pitch is allowed to determine the length of the sound and the frequency of the repetitions, thereby revealing the time-based relationship of pitch to rhythm.  These structures allow the possibility, if the listener should choose, to listen actively and analytically.

This invention or re-invention of a structure of harmony based on the relationship of pitch to time is a logical extension of my compositional choice to work with sound as a physical medium, a recorded signal, rather than a historical prescription of notation, organisation and performance.

If this is or has been film music it is not the narrative of the hollywood or bollywood epic, rather it has something to do with works which have a different structure; film as document or atmosphere, the European or Japanese art movie.

David Cunningham 1992

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water -david cunningham
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© 1992 david cunningham