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Lines Set One-Degree Off Parallel: Cultural Deprivation And HE Attainment (2023)

  • Presentation at the 2023 Medway Learning & Teaching conference. I accepted the offer to speak with the idea of using myself as an example of the empowering nature of higher education, but research led me down a slightly different path. I discovered Bourdieu's work and from there was able to make more sense of some of the challenges I've faced trying to make a career as a musician and understand the class divide in the UK a bit better. See my LinkedIn post.

There is No Such Thing as Cancel Culture (2022)

  • For my money, the best thing that has ever been written on the subject.

Gondwana: Spectral, Liminal, and the In-Between (2020)

  • As with most (all?) artistic-movement labels, the term ‘Spectral’ doesn’t really describe the music to which if refers at all. Having witnessed a live, impromptu performance by Iancu Dumitrescu and his ensemble, for example, I don’t believe it glib to say that his music has little in common with the music of, say, Gérard Grisey, though ‘Spectral’ is used freely describe both.

  • Goldsmiths’ library has a full, pristine copy of the full orchestral score of Tristan Murail’s Gondwana, and curiosity for this colossal piece for which there appeared to be relatively little scholarly information available led me to attempt an analysis for Dr. Stephen Graham’s Analysing Contemporary Music module. Though the initial feeling was that there would be little fresh or original that could be said about this music, engagement with Murail’s own writing led me to believe that there were significant gaps in understanding between the widely accepted facts of this music and the intentions of the composers working in it as the movement was burgeoning.

  • My research sought to address the hold that rather heavy-handed term ‘Spectral’ has over this music. In private correspondence, Grisey himself proposed the term ‘liminal’ to describe the music he and his contemporaries were making before it has acquired an established moniker, Liminal an interesting word—it is used to denote ‘in-between’ states, that ambiguous and peculiar space between two fixed categories of things, and here evokes the discoveries made in light of the increasing availability sound-analysis technology that what appear to be distinct categories of sound properties are in fact not distinct at all: pitch and timbre, for example, are not so different when one conducts a sonic analysis of a texture and finds that its quality is simply the result of a specific set of frequencies combined at specific amplitudes.

  • This idea of traversing parameters, of being able to ‘transform’ a pitch into a rhythm*, or a set of pitches into white noise by successive addition of pitches (as actually happens in this piece) did inter-dimensional things for my imagination, and it is opinion that conceiving of the music in this way is far more rewarding than making the spectral overtone analyses—which are doubtless an important part of it and make many of the discoveries on which the movement depends possible—its focus. My essay sought to convince that Murail hammers this point home repeatedly and fairly overtly throughout Gondwana.

*To hear an example of this idea in action, listen to the opening of Jon Hopkins' Luminous Beings. He starts with a bass frequency and pitch shifts it downwards past the point at which the ear is able to hear it as a pitch and it becomes a pulse. The pulse then becomes the tempo for the piece, which = cool.

The Symphony in the Twenty-First Century (2019)

  • This essay was, at least, ambitious: I attempted an analysis of Philip Glass’ Symphony no. 11 and the composer’s late compositional style in general for a module run by Professor Keith Potter, one of the world’s leading Glass scholars and author of the book from which much of my research was drawn. I made some interesting observations about what I determined to be a gross simplification of Glass’ writing style over time, but unfortunately remained and remain in the dark about why Glass appears to write the same piece of music over and over and over again. I continue to hope that time will show me to be ignorant about what is being attempted in these works.

Neoliberalism and High Art: The Assault on Musical Value (2017)

  • Undergraduate dissertation. The project began with a simple desire to understand the frequency with which news articles proclaiming the ‘death’ of so-called Classical music are published, but led me to the far more complex and all-encompassing subject of what is loosely called ‘neoliberal’ economics. Though it veered close to becoming an Economics essay, the intention was to understand the changes and concessions practitioners of high art (another imprecise that term that is used with more delicacy and caution in the essay itself) and the institutions that host them undergo when forced to operate in this environment.

  • I conducted a lot of primary research, in particular by spending time trawling through Arts Council annual reports to quantify the decline in public funding for arts institutions since the widely accepted starting point of neoliberalism in the 1980s, and attempted a more nuanced discussion of musical value in general in light of my discoveries in the final chapter.

Bach as Transcriber: Composition Through Improvisation (2017)

  • Examination of the ways Bach’s time spent transcribing Italian concerti and his wider immersion in the so-called Italian style impacted his subsequent compositional style.

Other

Humorous Sea State (Tabitha Lasley) review (2021)

  • I applied for editorial role with Penguin in the naïve belief that their assurance that they welcomed applicants from underrepresented backgrounds who may have transferrable experience meant that I stood a chance (rejected before the advert even closed). As part of the application, I was to recommend and review a recent non-fiction book I had read.

  • Anybody could do that. My mantra, always try to stand out, dictates that merely reviewing a book I had read was the chump route, so I very cleverly decided to review a book I hadn't read. My confession at the end, following a detailed and thoughtful account of my thoughts on the volume, would, I fancied, demonstrate my imagination, skill, versatility, and penchant for flare as a writer. My ability to assimilate and regurgitate information on a book from reviews and summaries of it alone would place me in higher stead than my lowly reality-bound counterparts.

  • The failure of my application perhaps betrays the folly in this scheme. I quite proudly still haven't read Sea State, which is to my detriment as it sounds fascinating and was on my reading list long before I wrote the non-review.

  • Update 2023: I have now read Sea State and it was very good.

 

Party (2021)

  • Read this if you're the kind of person who gets exhausted by socialising

Home Alone summary (2022)

  • I was shortlisted for a comedy writer role with Danimations and asked to submit a short, funny summary of a well-known movie of my choice. I'm including it here mostly in the hope that somebody will appreciate the term 'chamber of punishment' used within.

  • Turns out the 'shortlist' I was a part of was made up of 130 people, which they then complained about because it meant they had too many scripts to get through before their own deadline and ignored me until I chased them up. If you're in recruitment, don't do that.

Wacky Spice Girls reunion take (2022)

  • I was going to retract the it about Danimations above because they later reached out to me to let me know they had an opening for a writer on their new comedy news channel. I felt guilty about trashing them here on this obscure part of my obscure website because presumably they kept me on record after rejecting me for the previous role and thought of me.

  • However.... after submitting the above rather finished take on the possible upcoming Spice Girls reunion ('write a about a fun or quirky news story' was the brief), I was shortlisted and given access to their unlisted cache of videos. After spending a morning watching them, I discovered that I was actually in the running to associate myself with a horrifically misogynistic, right-wing, and, worst of all, unfunny purveyor of short one-minute takes on celebrity news stories. I withdrew my application.

  • Meghan Markle, Adele, Greta Thunberg, Amber Heard and Emily Ratajkowski were particular targets of their scorn (though they had a bizarre fixation with Brooklyn Beckham too?), and they were particularly riled by the existence of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. It was essentially the musings of an angry teenager who spends a lot of time on 4chan. Strange, strange stuff.

What is Inflation? (2022)

  • Discarded work for an article I was asked to write about inflation. The final version was a total rewrite and bears almost no resemblance to this draft. I realised that this version was basically a 'What is Inflation?-type educational article, which wasn't what was asked for but could fit snugly into my portfolio to demonstrate the powers of my ability as a writer, so not all bad.

  • Some observers might, if they study the article closely, be able to tell that I am not from an economics background. Excuse the philosophical musings throughout, and be thankful that I've excluded the introduction, in which, among other things, I quoted a Shakespeare sonnet 😬.

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