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This research consists of a portfolio of original musical compositions, accompanied by a commentary which examines the aesthetic and technical aspects of each piece and of the body of work as a whole. It traces the development of a mature and original compositional style. The works presented share a focus on the concept of line. This concept is explored in a range of diverse instrumentations (orchestra, choral, solo instrument/voice, chamber ensemble, electronics) and diverse compositional methods (fully-notated scores, graphic scores, devised improvised schemes). The emphasis is on lines that are constrained within a particular pitch register, while being explored fully with regard to other parameters such as rhythm, timbre, and harmony. Another constant is an interest in mathematical structures and how they can be used to create original musical structures. This draws particularly upon the work of Xenakis and Johnson. The original impetus for my research was my analysis of selected works by Feldman and Birtwistle. I will show how these influences helped form my compositional style, and how the style builds upon and departs from these influences. At first, the response to these influences was to compose with an 'absurdist' aesthetic, in which independent logics are juxtaposed, each of which is internally consistent, but at odds with each other. Over the development of my work during the research process, the emphasis has moved away from a overt consciousness of the absurdist elements and towards a more integrated approach which features a multiplicity of means in which logical lines can be juxtaposed. The discussion of each work begins with a description of the stylistic terrain/field of action within which the work occurs, and an exploration of the musical ideas being explored, then moves on to show how these ideas interact over the course of the work.
Bremner, D. (2013) Follow the dotted line: composition portfolio with commentary. Doctoral Thesis, Dublin Institute of Technology, doi:10.21427/D7M015