Starting in 2012, through to producing a disc of studies in 2015, Amp/Al is both a specific composition project (my adaptation of the flute and flute-playing with live electronics), and an instrumentation. Using microphones, a volume pedal and an amplifier, I developed my ‘own’ instrument in improvised music concerts, trying to understand the basics of feedback, and how amplification, combined with a physical choreography, could join the acoustic and the electronic together.
The original idea behind the project was to take my work with live electronics out of other composers’ hands, and to articulate my own ideas about composition and sound that had been gathering pace in my practice. Amp/Al is a personal response to the repertoire and what I perceived to be limitations of notated new music: rather than write about it however, I developed a musical response. It was only later that the ideas I tried to articulate in Amp/Al eventually found their way into a larger piece of writing – my PhD thesis.
In 2015 I released the Amp/Al album: a series of studies around the instrumentation and its possibilities. The aesthetic and ethos behind the disc owes a lot to the artists who were around me at that time: Angela Guyton, Rodrigo Constanzo and Sam Andreae (Angela Guyton created a bespoke cover for the disc). Today I often use the Amp/Al set-up in solo improvisations and with other groups and performances. As well as initiating the process of making my own music, the disc stimulated a series of visual works.
While working on Amp/Al I explored ways of representing the music in a visual way. I hesitate to use the word ‘score’ here, but the following could be seen as a species of graphic notation. Using paper, soil, bark, moss and ash, I created a set of abstract visual works in the same period as the music, and these offer a form of visual commentary on the momentum behind Amp/Al.