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Ingenuity and madness?

MALCOLM MILLER investigates
Robert Voisey's '60x60' project


'If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance runů' The idea of commissioning sixty pieces each a minute long has elements of both ingenuity combined with madness: can a creative artist have anything serious to say in just one minute? Can a listener gain anything in such a short time span?

The answer is yes if one may go by the individual contributions to 60x60, a project in its third year, whereby composers are invited to submit minute long pieces in digital format with the prospect of being included in the hour long presentation -- concert -- CD. A minute can be ample time to express a whole gamut of imaginative sounds, or it can be a constraint which forces an artist to isolate what is the most important element of a work. The point of the project is that it enables an audience to take in and enjoy a cross section of different approaches to new music within a reasonable duration. And the purpose of Robert Voisey is to promote new music ...

Voisey's own input is compositional -- he organises the sixty works into a coherent and dramatic continuity and it is this which can enhance the individual works. In this 60x60 2005, there are a range of approaches, some are purist electronic works, some use electronics and electro acoustics only minimally; some are atonal and postmodern, some are tonal, modal and jazzy, some clearly in the pop and film music genre. Of the electro acoustic works which make up the majority, several use sampling and play with the notion of the original acoustic instrument, whether a string instrument (violin, viola, double bass) or piano and marimba. Some of the pieces were clearly witty, some essays and experiments, some ambitious and some simple.

Voisey struck an arresting note from the start with two pieces that echo racing cars surging round a track. The first was created from samplings of viola note bending, the second was a more complex computerized sound generating programme. There followed three works exploring manipulated string sounds, one of which was clearly tonal.

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Copyright © 24 December 2005 Malcolm Miller, London UK


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