A Picture of Transparency

I recently had the opportunity to take part in the RNCM and University of Liverpool’s collaborative interdisciplinary project PRiSM 8 cubed, where 8 scientists worked with 8 composers to create new pieces inspired by scientific research. I was partnered with Professor Rachel Williams, who is a researcher in Ophthalmic Bioengineering. Rachel’s research revolves around the design and development of advanced materials to overcome vision loss. In January 2020 I visited Rachel in the lab, where we dissected an eye to understand its components and how it processes light to produce vision. We also experimented with materials to show how their properties change as they are mixed together to create new materials used in the creation of lenses for different diseases which affect the eye.

The piece is inspired by this material processing, and represents the initial state where the material components are individual and dissociated. This is followed by the middle section where the materials mix and swirl together and begin to react with each other and eventually as they combine to process a single gel with a softness and transparency the music becomes less free and is now more rhythmically and tonally stable. The electronics as well as some of the instructions in the score are inspired by / feature manipulations of improvised sounds conducted by both myself and Rachel Williams on the guitar. The guitar and bass also features transducer speakers attached to the headstock ,so as the electronics change into sine wave like tones they are sent to the guitars and trigger different strings to vibrate and make sound independently of the performer, creating more of a connection between the performers and electronic parts, unifying in a similar way to the two compounds becoming one new substance as they are mixed in the lab.

Link to Rachel’s research: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/life-course-and-medical-sciences/staff/rachel-williams/

Link to the Prism 8 Cubed project : https://www.rncm.ac.uk/research/research-centres-rncm/prism/prism-blog/prism-8-cubed/

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