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The works in the attached portfolio address a number of compositional focal points: to bring together diverse strands of musical influence into sustained musical argument, across various large-scale media; to enlarge and explore the musical language of the harp, including the lever harp; and to integrate received materials into new music so as to create a different context while acknowledging musical inheritance. These combine with the exploration of inherent instrumental colour within my approaches to rhythm, harmony, melodic transformation, structure and the use of text to demonstrate the development of my compositional style during my PhD study. The commentary opens with three contextual chapters which outline my compositional approach and which discuss prominent aspects common to the works attached. These chapters are ‘My Main Compositional Concerns’, ‘Use of Received Materials’ and ‘Writing for Voice’. Commentaries on individual works follow, providing discussion of dimensions of the pieces not addressed in the opening chapters. Two appendices are given at the end of the portfolio. The first is an orchestral piece, Rann Dó Trí which won the BBC Baroque Remixed composition competition in 2013: it is included to demonstrate a more overt of use of received materials in a piece which at times resembles an arrangement of baroque material, in contrast to the concealed use of borrowed materials in the harp piece, Amplétude. The second item in the appendix is an alternative instrumentation of ‘A Flower Given to My Daughter’ from Pomes Penyeach using accompaniment of cello and harp instead of two violins. The reason for its inclusion is the exploration of a wider range of sonorities, particularly from lower registers, and the resulting provision of upper harmonics. Below is a list of the works in the portfolio. Recordings of the works are provided and these are listed on page vi. Most of the works are performed by musicians and singers, and in cases where such recordings are not available, midi recordings are included.
O'Farrell, A. (2017) A portfolio of compositions. Doctoral thesis, Queen's University Belfast.