Meditations on a Landscape: song cycle for soprano, live processing and fixed media

Tom Williams (Artist)

Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchComposition

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The ‘Meditations’ song cycle arose through collaboration with the soprano Juliana Janes Yaffé. Lines and sections of text from the poetry of Penny Windsor (a poet I had set in previous compositions) were selected and arranged to explore notions of weathered English landscapes over three contrasting songs. Through a creative dialogue a natural prosody was revealed to ensure that the meaning of the text and the musical intention was maintained. The process was always to test and evaluate the setting and its tessitura in the context of the vocal demands of the musical vision. Each song contrasts in style and setting – some more lyrical and reflective and others more declamatory – and these set up particular issues in their vocal settings.

Through the collaboration it became evident that the electroacoustic ‘tape’ part needed to give harmonic support to the live voice. The electroacoustic part mitigates the dichotomy of the sound-based acousmatic with acoustic pitch-based composition by employing digitally transforming both conventional and non-conventional instrumental morphologies into new, instruments that harmonise and duet with the voice. An example of this is in Song 2’s opening drone sound, which is made from recordings of the wind tuned with a comb filter, or the ‘quasi-harp’ that then enters which is built from the morphing of a range of instrumental sources using subtle de-tunings. A wide range of natural and instrumental sources are shaped and formed digitally to make an original palette for the electroacoustic score. The digital delays are conceived as canons to add harmonic, melodic and textural depth to the material at heighted moments. The passage in Song 2 from m.60 is at the song’s emotional apex and uses multiple harmonic layering to achieve the required effect.

The work has performances that include Sound+Environment conference, Hull; NYCEMF New York; THIS Festival, Leeds; and York University.

Original languageEnglish
Media of outputScore plus media
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2015
EventSound+Environment 2017: Art | Science | Listening | Collaboration - Hull University, Hull, United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Jun 20172 Jul 2017

Additional Information

Performances1. Meditations on a Landscape – song cycle for soprano, live processing and fixed media,(songs 1,2,3) from the poetry of PennyAnne Windsor, soprano Juliana Janes Yaffé, INTIME2015 Symposium, Coventry University, (25/10/2015)2. Meditations on a Landscape, Can & Home (Breath Replaced) at lunchtime ‘Tom Williams showcase concert’, Coventry University, (sop. Juliana Janes Yaffé) 4/11/2015. NYCEMF2017 (New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival) June 17, 2017, Abrons Art Center, NYC. (soprano Juliana Janes Yaffé)4. Sound +Environment 2017, University of Hull, Middleton Hall, Hull, July 1st, (soprano Juliana Janes Yaffé)
Described by Hubert Howell (Founder and Chair NYCEMF (2017)- New York City Electronic Music Festival), "one of the highlights of our festival that year" 


  • composition
  • electroacoustic music
  • song


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  • Convergence

    Tom Williams (Creative Artist)

    12 Sept 201915 Sept 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

  • Sound+Environment 2017

    Tom Williams (Participant)

    1 Jul 2017

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

  • 2016 New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival

    Tom Williams (Participant)

    23 Jun 2017

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

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