My new album entitledname pieces was released on 14 August 2020. The album is a collection of five pieces that are homages to some of the people that have impacted on what I do.
When I started writing the earliest of these name pieces, Morton Feldman Philip Guston, I was obsessed with single page pieces that were somewhat indeterminate. This work was quite unlike the music I had been making up until that point (though some older characteristics remain), and as a result I thought that I needed to break from my previous naming conventions of X minutes of Music on the Subject of Y, and X lines of music slow down and eventually stop. I had initially decided to name the pieces written around this time after ships launched in the 15th century and onwards. I am a fan of all things maritime, and I also figured that if I started this titling convention, then I would be unlikely to run out of titles. However, they just didn’t have enough to do with the music I was writing, so I left this idea aside. In the end, I elected to name these pieces after people that have impacted upon my development as a composer, putting two names together to see what might result from the dialectic created between two related or unrelated names.
These five pieces span a three-year period, when many things changed in my life. However, one thing that remained unchanged is the admiration I have for the people mentioned in this collection’s titles. You will hear tributes to friends and teachers, as well as artists and composers I’ve never met, but have somehow impacted upon what I think, and what I do. For the most part, this collection of music is made up of long sustained tones derived from the names of the people in each title, and these tones are sometimes punctuated by concrète sounds from my lived experience. Perhaps you will enjoy this music in its own right. Perhaps it might inspire you to go check out, or revisit, some of the work by the people mentioned in these pieces. I’m a big fan of drawing attention to other people’s work within our artistic community, and perhaps now, in the middle of 2020, it is more apparent than ever that music, in its performance and in its reception, is (or ought to be) a celebration of community, and a drawing of attention to others.
I performed, recorded, mixed, and mastered everything using a variety of different hardware synthesizers and life-recordings, and it was recorded straight onto a small Tascam DR 44 WL.
The album is available to stream or download via my bandcamp page below, and includes include a PDF of all five scores, as well as liner notes. I hope you enjoy, and if you are interested, do help spread the word…
A little bit of news to share for anyone interested…
On 2 August 2019, I released an album of electronic music dedicated to my wife and son (on his first birthday) entitled and then you… The album contains three tracks, one written the night before he was born, one written while I was away teaching in Birmingham, and one written during the night while I was soothing our son to sleep. It has warmed my heart to hear the kind words that people have said about the music, both in public and to me in person. The second track was featured by Kate Molleson on BBC Radio 3’s New Music Show, and Eoin Murray wrote a very kind review of the tracks in the quietus here. Thanks to everyone that bought and listened to the album so far. You can stream or buy below if you’re interested:
On 14 September Crash Ensemble released their 20th anniversary album entitled Crashlands. I was really honoured to be featured as part of this recording alongside some of my favourite composers working today. I was also really happy with the piece that I wrote (a kind of swansong to using quite fixed notation), and think the recording sounds amazing. Adrian Hart and everyone involved with the production did a fabulous job. This is the sixth project that I’ve worked with Crash Ensemble on, and its always a pleasure to be working with such brilliant musicians who are also amazing fun to be around. There is a wee video about the whole Crashlands project below, and below that, there is a video of my piece performed in Carrick-on-Shannon. The album is available to buy on CD or download here and is available on all the usual streaming sites etc.
on 18 September the pianist Kate Ledger played my Four Pieces of Music Lasting Thirty Seconds Each for toy piano As part of James McIlrawth’s Amok concert series in York. Its very nice that these pieces have had a bit of an outing the past few years, as they are memorial music for Bob Gilmore who did much for the cause of Irish contemporary music and interesting music more generally. I couldn’t make the concert, as I was examining on PhD transfer panels that day, but James is doing really interesting things both as a composer and a concert organiser, and much success to him and this series. Thanks also to Kate for choosing to play these pieces.
On 20 September, for Culture Night 2019, myself and Andy Ingamells performed our new work nowhere better than this place in the Contemporary Music Centre, Dublin. This was a 35 minute piece which involved recorded and live domestic concrète sound, synthesizers, and projected text. In a small way, through sound, text, and action, the piece tried to draw attention to increasing homelessness in Ireland, whilst also trying to empathise with why people migrate from one place to another. If these issues resonate with you, consider donating to the Peter McVerry Trust, Focus Ireland, or the local homeless charity in your area. There is a short video with myself and Andy talking about the piece here.
Early in the year Sunken Foal asked me if I’d like to take part in the second installation of his 101 BPM project. I was delighted to be featured amongst some top notch musicians, so jumped at the chance to be included. I was real happy with the piece I wrote for this, and I think the whole compilation works incredibly well together. Fair play to Dunk for sorting the whole thing out. There is a launch party for the CD on 13 November 2019 in the Soundhouse in Dublin. Tickets available here. You can stream or download the album below, or indeed buy the double CD.
In October, myself and Andy Ingamells were delighted to announce that our first piece together, this is about was awarded a prestigious PRSF Beyond Boarders award to tour around Ireland, England and Wales in 2020 with the help of Third Ear. We really enjoyed working on this piece together, and using the Irish sport of Hurling as a springboard, it is a very personal meditation (and work out) of the stuff that was going on in our lives in 2019. We’re excited to bring it to audiences across Ireland and the UK in the new year. I’ll be posting more details about this tour in the coming months.
Finally, keeping with sport related music, my 2014 piece for electric guitar quartet Forty-Five Minutes of Music on the Subject of Football was re-released on CD by Birmingham Record Company and NMC on Friday 25 October. This is a very special piece for me, as it is the first ‘long’ piece I wrote when I decided I needed to write long pieces. As a result, I structured the piece on the first half of the Ireland V Italy game of USA 94, and I tried to evoke my soundworld of that time. Its also a special piece because I wrote it in collaboration with my good friends, ensemble krock in Sweden, who performed the piece excellently, and also with my good friend, John ‘Spud’ Murphy at Guerrilla Sounds Studios in Dublin, who recorded it amazingly. You can buy the CD or download here. Its also available through all the usual streaming channels.
In future news, I’m going into the studio in two weeks to record four sections of music unequally divided for gamelan, piano, and synthesizers. Its a sonically rich piece with big waves of sound, and quite the physical workout for me, so I’m really sharing the result with you in the future.
That’s about all I got, thanks for reading and supporting my music.
My new album entitled and then you was released on 2 August 2019. The record is made up of three pieces connected to the first year of my sons life. The first track is a 30 minute undulating piece called and then you came into existence, and was written and recorded the night before my son was born. The second piece called and then you smiled was written when I was away from my son working in Birmingham and recorded whilst my students were on their break from my gamelan class. The third and final piece is called and then you had a sleep regression and is based on a recording of me shakily singing and trying to sooth my son to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. The whole thing is an incredibly personal album, that deals with the expectation of our son’s arrival, the fact that I’m overseas away from him on a weekly basis, and the fact that even now, he still doesn’t sleep so well. I’m really happy with the results, but I hope also for it to resonate with other listeners too.
The album was created using life-recordings made on my phone as well as a variety of beautiful analog and FM synthesizers, and a bonang panerus from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Gamelan played back through a custom analog fx patch at home. As with most of this music that I make, it was recorded on a Tascam DR44WL.
You can hear an excerpt of the first track from the album below:
It is available to stream or download via my bandcamp page below and includes include a PDF of the three scores, as well as liner notes. I hope you enjoy, and if you are interested, do help spread the word…
It has been a while since I’ve written here. The past few months have been pretty busy with the demands of my job in Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, as well as getting to grips with parenthood (I’m not quite in it a year yet).
Nevertheless, I have been trying to do some things, that some people might find interesting.
In early January, an extensive interview with me appeared in the Journal of Music conducted by the musicologist and critic Adrian Smith. In the article, I responded to some criticisms from Raymond Deane about my music and the work of some of my peers. Respectfully disagreeing with Raymond, I argued against dialectics, drama and narrative in music. Instead I offered examples of what I consider to be good music that eschews this tradition in favour of work that is more contemplative and offers space in an increasingly claustrophobic and anxiety inducing world. There are also a few words on some of my own pieces and compositional processes. You can read the article/interview here if you are interested: Tired of the Confrontational.
In February, I released the recording of my piece ireland england. I toured this piece around the UK in 2018 supported by Culture Ireland GB18 and was very happy to release both the video with text projection (link above), as well as the audio recording on my bandcamp label, available here and below. I’m very happy with how this piece turned out, as I think (at the time at least) it drew people’s attention to several pertinent questions. Additionally, I was very fortunate to meet and play with many incredible musicians during the tour.
Between February and May, I was engaged in the composition and devising of a new piece co-composed by myself and Andy Ingamells called This is About (pictured above, photo credit: Tom Earl). Using the Irish sport of hurling as a starting point, the piece tries to explore subjects related to fatherhood, friendship, Englishness, Irishness, (toxic) masculinity, cooperation, and being open to suggestion. Lasting about an hour, the piece saw us running old basketball drills in space blankets, making field recordings of hurling matches in counties Clare, Galway as well as the recycling plant in Poolbeg in Dublin (in search of an 18th century handball alley), using these field recordings as a score (in parts), pucking around with each other with varying degrees of complexity, playing synthesizers, hurling over a piano, recording and layering freestyle moves in real-time creating a complex web of sound, using cue notation to determine coordinated events, playing a piano with a hurly stick, whistling, talking, and finally, singing in the style of football hooligans. There was a lot in the piece both physically and emotionally, and it took a number of days for me to recover from the first performance, which we gave in Royal Birmingham Conservatoire to launch the Birmingham Record Company // NMCpartnership on 2 May. The piece was recorded by BBC Radio 3 and will be broadcast in a feature show in the autumn of 2019. Myself and Andy also have plans to tour the piece around Ireland in 2020 as well as some places in the UK. If you’re interested in putting us on anywhere get in touch with me here.
On Thursday 20 June, Sunken Foal released a recent piece of mine Green, Yellow, Blue on his lovely countersunk label. This was part of his 101BPM project in which he asked a number of composers/producers/artists to write an electronic piece where the only brief was that it needed to be 101 bpm. For me it was a great honour to be asked to be part of this compilation as it includes many, many people that I respect and admire. Dunk has also done a wonderful job mastering and sowing the whole thing together to bring the listener on a coherent journey. I very much enjoyed the process of this project and hope to do more stuff like this in the future. You can hear the track here and below, and I believe there will be a physical release of the whole compilation later in the year.
In some forthcoming news, I will be releasing my new album and then you… through my Bandcamp label on 2 August 2019. This new album is made up of three pieces connected to my sons life. The first and longest piece called and then you came into existence is about 30 minutes long and was written and recorded the night before my son was born. The second piece called and then you smiled was written when I was away from my son working in Birmingham and recorded whilst my students were on their break from my gamelan class. It is about 4 minutes long. The third and final piece is called and then you had a sleep regression and is based on a recording of me shakily singing and trying to sooth my son to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. It is about 15 minutes long. The whole thing is an incredibly personal album, and I’m really happy with the results, but I hope it resonates with other listeners also. More on this, with an excerpt in a slightly later post…
Finally, in related news, on 19 October 2019, NMC will re-release (in a limited physical run) my Birmingham Record Company album Forty-Five Minutes of Music on the Subject of Football performed by Ensemble Krock. This is very exciting for me as this piece was my first long-form composition and also my first release, so I’m very excited that it will filter down into a larger network through the work of NMC. It should be available to buy from their online shop here in October, as well as appearing on all streaming services.
For now, I’m taking about a month off to spend with my family, but for the future, I’m planning some nice projects with some very interesting people, as well as sitting on two albums worth of recordings (schematics and a collection of name pieces) which will hopefully see the light of day in 2020. So if you’re interested in any of these releases or projects, check back here or twitter.com which I update a bit more regularly.
On Friday 1 February, I released ireland england, available to download or stream from Bandcamp, and also available as a video on Youtube.
Lasting the duration of my regular flight between Dublin and Birmingham, ireland england is an extended drone-based work for analog synthesizers and projected text. Through the marriage of continuous focused sound, statistical texts, and defamiliarisation, this work calls attention to the diverse range of journeys that Irish people have undertaken to England, both historically and in more recent times.
I toured the work around the UK in 2018 supported by Culture Ireland’s GB18 Promoting Irish Arts in Britain scheme. It was performed in Brighton, Birmingham, London, Leicester and Southampton.
This recording was performed live in a single take in December 2018, and recored in stereo to a Tascam DR-44WL
ireland england can be streamed or downloaded here.
I’m pleased to say that this autumn/winter I’ll be giving three more performances of my latest piece Ireland England for synthesizers & text projection supported by Culture Ireland, as part of GB18: Promoting Irish Arts in Britain. I’ll be playing the following cities & venues:
London: Tuesday 16 October 2018 @19h00. City University, London, St John Street, London, EC1V 4PB. More info & (free) tickets available here: https://www.city.ac.uk/events/2018/october/sean-clancy-ireland-england
Leicester: Wednesday 17 October 2018 @19h00. R10, 52a Market Place, Leicester, LE1 5GF. More info here: https://www.facebook.com/r10lab/
Southampton: Thursday 6 December 2018 @ 19h00. Playlist @ The Arches, Old Cattle Market, Captain’s Place, Southampton, SO14 3FE. More info here: https://www.facebook.com/soplaylist/
Through the marriage of continuous focused sound & statistical texts, this work calls attention to the diverse range of journeys that Irish people have undertaken to England, both historically and in more recent times.
Would be great to see many people at these events, so if you’re in London, Leicester or Southampton, come along and say hui!
I made it on a Moog System 55, Sub 37, Sub Phatty, Mother 32, TE-OP1, TE-PO12, and a Hologram Infinite Jets, all running through a Strymon BlueSky.
The last track is a little tribute to Mika Vainio who died in 2017. While I never met him, his music continues to have a profound impact on me, and playing on these exact instruments that he played on himself in 2016, enabled me to make some sort of connection with him, tentative as it may be…
Today, I re-released a collection of music from October and December of 2017 entitled An Ornamental Light Glows Beneath the Tinted Window. The original release was more or less made from stuff recorded over the summer of 2017. I made it using a Make Noise 0 Coast, TE-OP1, a Yamaha DX, TE-PO12, Strymon BlueSky, and a Tascam DR-44WL. There are also samples of a gamelan, a piano, and a photocopier, and each track was more or less performed and recorded live. I wasn’t particularly happy with the original master so I redid it over the past few days, and also streamlined two releases into one. If you are interested in the sounds of synthsizers, pianos, photocopiers, drum machines, or gamelan, then you can stream or download the thing for free over here.
I’m very happy to be performing two new works for synthesizers & text projection called ‘Morton Feldman Philip Guston’ & ‘Pauline Oliveros Jenny Holzer’ at the next Post-Paradise concert in Birmingham’s Centrala Space, on 23 February 2018 at 8pm.
These works, for me, present a new way of scoring pieces for synthesizers and also relate to the personalities in the titles, whom have impacted upon my practice in some way.
I’m very happy to announce that a large scale piece I’m working on for synthesizers and text projections entitled Ireland England is to be featured as part of Culture Ireland‘s GB18 Programme of events.
The piece will be toured around England in a number of diverse venues from April through to November 2018, and is a scored drone composition with texts that explore reasons why Irish people travel to the UK.
More info on my culture Ireland page is available here.