Audio Al'ka-mie

As a musician, performing with others encourages me to create new ways, and new reasons
to improvise/compose/perform. I have been playing with other musicians for many years but
collaborating with artists in other forms is a relatively new challenge for me.

"The combination of music and dance/live art/performance art, is always something that is developing,
but yet remaining something that you have to “go to see” in order to really experience it. There are always
new shows, with new ideas about how to combine these mediums. The two shows with the most buzz
right now are, Cirque de Soleil & Blue Man Group." (Jerry A Greene, email to me, 7/3/06).

My first opportunity to collaborate with live artists / performance artists and dancers came in out of the blue
in February 2005, whilst I was taking part in an international arts event in Berlin, Germany. I was there as
a pianist and performed some of my own composed/improvised music as a soloist. There was also
an ensemble of dancers– Tanzmedia - who had heard me play and asked me to accompany their
own performance. This was an honour for me – they did not tell me what to play or how to play.
It was to prove the first, I hope, of many more, such opportunities.

Images © …..

Whilst in Edinburgh, taking part in the same event a year later, I was able to ‘collaborate’ with another
performer. The 1st time our work coincided (above) we had not discussed the way our work might interact.
The 2nd time (below) we had discussed how the elements might be combined. Samantha Sweeting told me
that her performance would involve her ‘trying to eat an apple that was suspended from a ladder,
whilst a spoken list of apple varieties that she had recorded was played on a tape player.

She was/is concerned with food. We did not tell each other how or what to perform
but we naturally found ourselves re-acting to each other in an organic way. For instance,
when Sweeting managed to take a bite of the apple, I would try to mirror her success
in my music – by implying a harmonic resolution. After our ‘collaboration’ we
agreed that ‘it worked’ and that we would like to explore the piece in the future.

Images © …..

"Just to reiterate my thanks for your piano playing during my performance on Sunday.
I'm really happy with it... Also, Rose said that the journalist from the
Scotsman really liked the piece so fingers crossed."
(Sam Sweeting; Berlin...Edinburgh)

"I like what you were saying about trying to follow what I was doing with what you were playing,
which is quite funny because I think that I was doing the same thing in a way. Blaise and I have
also been talking about developing things along this line. Mutual Improvisation!" (Sam Sweeting)

On my way from London, where I live[d], to Edinburgh in Feb 2006, I became acquainted
with the dance company Al’ka-mie. We discussed our own interests and arts (me, music &
them, dance). I learnt that they combined dance with film to create a genre of digital dance – theatre.

The projected film, which was controlled by Brian, would create a kind of ‘set’ in which, Robyn,
the dancer, would move. They had been working with pre-recorded music, and my lasting memory
of their performance in Edinburgh involved Coldplay’s Yellow. After that performance we became
a trio in rehearsal – each re-acting to each other. They encouraged me to be as adventurous as I wanted.
This was even more exciting, challenging and interesting for me as it combined three elements,
three artists. After a few rehearsals using a digital piano, I brought a sampler along which enabled
me to be even more adventurous – using a wider variety of sounds.

I rehearsed as pianist/accompanist-composer for the ‘dance-theatre-film’
duo Al'ka-mie, as a result of discussions during transit station Edinburgh.

Al'ka-mie describe their work thus:

"Visual Theatre; seamlessly combines live performance & digital art...fantastical
narrative and surreal imagery... theatre accessible to new audiences familiar
with the language of film and the virtual fantasy of computer games...."

There were 3 elements; projected digital 'worlds', dance/movement and music; all elements are
equally important. Al'ka-mie had been working together for a number of years before I began
working with them, they developed techniques, ideas whilst studying for an MA.

When I first saw their work (at transitstation Edinburgh), they used recorded music, so that
the dancer and the controller knew what (music) was coming next. They invited me to improvise
on the piano, which created a new dynamic within the work. There could now be
a dialogue between some or all of the three elements (people).

Although I have worked with dancers/movement artists before (tanzmedia [transitstations Berlin] &
Merav Israel [ts Edinburgh], working with Al’ka-mie was a new challenge as they encourage me to be
as varied as I can. At the same time I want to remember something of what I have played
for each of their ‘scenes’, which, when using a midi sampler, is even more exciting as,
in effect, I have to learn the keyboard all over again, particularly when using,
for example, percussion sounds instead of a piano.

Having studied composition for Film and TV, I am interested in the application/adaptation
of any techniques I learnt. Having also become interested in computer game music,
I am eager to research/explore/combine elements of (music for) dance/film/games.

First, a brief assesment of the origins of music for dance/film and computer games.
Music, and sound, for film, and then for games, developed as the technology allowed.

Dance-from?
Film-from opera/theatre?
Games-from film, esp for film/game(/book) titles
e.g. Harry Potter®/Star Wars®/Lord of the Rings®

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