Matthew Grouse – 10 Seconds

How did the piece come about?

The piece was commissioned for PLUG Festival, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s annual week of new music. I was asked to devise a concert along with fellow students of the composition department in which we collectively agreed upon a pool of instruments to write for; sourced the student performers and eventually composed a programme of new chamber works. The free reign of a brief like this was pretty exciting and the lack of creative parameters provoked the slightly intimidating question: “With practically no barriers, what music do I actually want to write?” During the last couple of years, I’ve been experimenting more and more with combining media in my music to satisfy my interest in the synthesis of acoustic and pre-recorded sonorities to create a broadened and unexpected palette of sound and also to explore conceptual ideas that I’d find very difficult to communicate when working in a purely acoustic instrumental context. 10 Seconds was an important, embryonic step in my experimentation in this composite medium, where I was able to combine my interests in writing text, chamber music and studio based composition. I was also able to work closely with some of my performer friends at RCS who are particularly interested in new music, which is always a rewarding experience.


What other projects do you have on the go at the moment?

I’m just finishing off quite a big piece, ‘The Periphery Archives’, for small amplified ensemble, soundtrack and video for the 2018 PLUG Festival which is a continuation of some of the conceptual ideas explored in 10 Seconds. I’m currently writing a short work for Red Note Ensemble for the relatively unusual forces of clarinet, violin, cello, harp and electric bass, with performances in March. I’m also excited about participating in the Darmstadt Summer Courses in July where I’ll be writing a new electric guitar etude for Yaron Deutsch. In February, the New York based label, Not Art Records is releasing an EP of some of my electroacoustic works with some very pretty album artwork by Brooke Herr.


What other pieces have you seen or heard in the last year that you think will stand the test of time?

At Aberdeen’s Sound Festival, this year, I heard Quatuor Bozzini perform Icebergs et Soleil de minuit by Simon Martin, which I thought was a pretty special piece. At the St Magnus Festival, I heard Freya Waley-Cohen’s Nocturne for solo clarinet, which was really stunning – Joseph Shiner’s performance was cracking. I was also introduced to a lot of new audiovisual work at Sound / Image in Greenwich. One composer really stood out, Maxime Corbeil-Perron and his work Imaginary Optics. Lastly, I’m always amazed by how much fantastic music is coming out of the RCS composition department. I feel really lucky to be around so many exciting music makers, covering a huge range of artistic pursuits.


What is the piece or project that you would most like to write or create?

I’ve had this idea for a mixed-media chamber opera brewing for a couple of years now, which I’m pretty desperate to realise. It’s called #449 and centres around the commodification of animals and acts as a glimpse into the lives of the individuals that we use for food, clothing, entertainment etc.

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