@Mused in Aldeburgh, Suffolk UK

@Mused in Aldeburgh, Suffolk UK

Dutch sound artist and composer Mayke Nas joined the Aldeburgh Productions as part of the European Pépinières program for young artists . During the months July, August and September she kept an online diary about her experiences in Aldeburgh. Here follows an impression...

July 4

Approaching Harwich by ferry. My stay in England starts as promised: with rain and with trains running either late or not at all. I arrive in Aldeburgh late in the evening to a lovely cottage with not less than three bedrooms all to myself and an amazing 30-yard garden on the back with appletrees, peartrees and ready to be plucked raspberries.

July 6

The supermarket is a dangerous place...I meet a group of six young British composers, all in their early twenty's. They start a ten day course today, resulting in writing a small piece for a group of young players who are here to work on contemporary pieces with the likes of Rosemary Harden, Anssi Karttunen and Diego Masson. They begin with showing some of their music to each other. I'm very impressed by the quality of their work. Lot's of multi-talents among them, with most of them being players and conductors as well as composers. Also, I get the impression that there are many opportunities to write for orchestra in England, since most of these lot have already dipped in that pool where I am about to jump in for the first time of my life, still standing on the edge with one toe cowardly testing the temperature.

July 11

One of the young composers on the course, Tom Littlewood, is experimenting with various unpitched sounds for the whole ensemble; blowing air through instruments, swiping with canes, squeeking across instruments with sweaty handpalms, tapping on the wood of the stringed instruments etc. He manages to get a very exciting soundworld out of the whole ensemble. I experience once more how more easily I am aroused by noisy and windy experiments than by neatly composed pitched music. I am tempted to go the Lachenmann way in my orchestra piece.

July 17

Townsteps in Aldeburgh I manage to reduce Webern's second Bagatelle to a homophonic melody. Next step is to turn it into a rich quasi-unison for String Quartet. My whole piece, called 'withorwithout', will then consist of nine different variations of this little Webern gem:

  • without bow
  • with wood
  • without context
  • with unison
  • with air (world's first airquartet!)
  • with mirrors
  • without fuss / stripped to its bare essentials
  • with natural harmonics
  • with a dead girl

On Mayke Nas' own website you can read her full report Mayke Nas