Dr Anthony Lyons - Reflections on Compositional Process: Trace Elements

Anthony Lyons is an accomplished Australian composer and musician whose practice is an interdisciplinary one that crosses into video, performance and installation. An active researcher in electronic composition and performance, his work has been featured in festivals and conferences such as the 2013 ICMC International Computer Music Conference - Developments in Electro-acoustics. His compositional work pursues beauty of line, sonority and site-specific context, drawing from both popular and art music traditions. Electronic and sampled elements are a feature and reveal research interests in pulse, palindromic structures, glitch and microsound aesthetics. Anthony’s doctoral studies focused on the compositional process and an examined nexus between technology, extra-musical interaction and structural design. He is a Lecturer in Interactive Composition at the VCA School of Contemporary Music, Faculty of the VCA & MCM at the University of Melbourne.

Written for piano and electronics, the composition Trace Elements represents a distillation of ideas and approaches present in my doctoral research. Central to this are the ways extra-musical influence, structure and the digital studio coalesce in my creative process.

Comprised of a collection of individual pieces, Trace Elements grapples with structural unity between local and macro- level design. The coexistence of static and developmental sound layers is mentioned in relation to techniques such as pitched and rhythmic pedal point, textural drone, and the use of palindromic/mirror symmetries. The extra-musical use of text in the form of spoken word samples and recorded sounds is raised in relation to generating thematically linked associations and atmospheres.

The initial stages of the composition process were collaborative leading to a live performance outcome. Aspects of this collaboration process that impacted the work are discussed, as is the unifying agent of the Remedios Varo painted image, Unsubmissive Plant. The impact of the digital studio is acknowledged as a constant mediator in the compositional process and this was particularly the case in the later construction stages where the composition took its final form.

From The Outstanding Field: Artistic Research Emerging from the Academy - A Symposium. 19th — 21st of March 2015.