ResearchWorks: Composing for the indeterminacy of instruments

  • 5pm
Photo of an oboe on top of an illustrated map


About this event:

Platform / Discussion | Research | ResearchWorks
Event type:
Free | Online

Event information

The Garden of Forking Paths project (GoFP) explores how we can compose for contingent instruments that have their own ‘material agency’. This talk situates composition as the organisation of a ‘dance of agency’ (Pickering) between instrument and player around the ‘emergent resistances and [….] strategies of accommodation’ negotiated in performance: which explores the less stable zones of sound production, grounded instead in ideas of responsiveness and ‘ongoingness’ (Haraway).

This conceptual apparatus of the project is applicable to any instrument, but the clarinet was the centre of the GoFP practice laboratory so that will be the focus of this talk. The speaker, Scott Mclaughlin, positiona GoFP as the vital obverse of existing research on the stable and repeatable clarinet multiphonics (e.g. Watts, Rehfeldt), instead offering ways to compose for multiply-unfolding metastable and unrepeatable paths through instrumental space.


Scott McLaughlin (b.1975) is an Irish composer and improviser based in Huddersfield (UK). He started out as a shoegaze/experimental guitarist before studying music in his 20s at University of Ulster then MA/PhD University of Huddersfield (with PA Tremblay, Bryn Harrison). Currently, Scott lectures in composition and music technology at the University of Leeds, and co-directs CePRA (Centre for Practice Research in the Arts), as well as convening the RMA Practice Research Study Group. His research focuses on composing for contingency and indeterminacy in the physical materiality of sound. Scott is currently Co-I on the AHRC SPARKLE (Sustaining Practice Assets for Research, Knowledge, Learning and Engagement), and recently completed an AHRC Leadership Fellowship, the ‘Garden of Forking Paths’ project, on composing for contingency in clarinets —

What is ResearchWorks?

Guildhall School’s ResearchWorks is a programme of events centred around the School’s research activity, bringing together staff, students and guests of international standing. We run regular events throughout the term intended to share the innovative research findings of the School and its guests with students, staff and the public.