The last time I posted on here – an embarrassingly large number of years ago – I made reference to the fact that I was in the early stages of my PhD research. Jumping forward to the present I’m now pleased – not to mention relieved – to say that it’s very nearly finished. Much of what I have been working on has been fairly complex theorisation of my work as a musician and so is unlikely to be of interest to everyone. Nevertheless, the main focus of the project is music, and the centrepiece of my research is a piece for solo saxophone that I have called Picasso(s). While an hour of solo saxophone music might not be to everyone’s taste, I am proud of the results and would love for people to hear it. Consequently, the main purpose of this post it to draw attention to the link below. By following it you can hear a studio recording of the piece, and if you really like it you can also order a physical copy (!):
However, while it is perfectly possible to listen to the music without any further contextualisation, I am also keen to draw attention to the fact that there is a conceptual basis to the project too. With this in mind, I am also including a short introduction to the theoretical aspect of the project. Once again this won’t be of interest to everyone, but I hope that contextualising the music might add an addition layer of interest to the listening experience. Additionally, I have included a link to the Hawkins recording that I used as the musical basis for my piece.
The following is a brief outline of my Picasso(s) project:
‘Suppose (I) were to make a copy of Las Meninas… Almost certainly I would be tempted to modify the light or arrange it differently…. Gradually I would create a painting…(that)…would not be Velazquez’s picture; it would be my Las Meninas.’ Pablo Picasso
In the second half of 1957, Pablo Picasso began a 6-month creative examination of a Velazquez masterpiece, which resulted in the series of 58 paintings that comprise his own Las Meninas. This collection is a seminal exploration of artistic originality, what Ortega called ‘the clash of the individual sensibility and already existing art.’
Picasso(s) uses the ‘clash’ concept to explore the thresholds between originality/imitation and composition/improvisation within my own creative practice. It combines elements of Picasso’s Las Meninas and Coleman Hawkins’ 1948 solo recording Picasso to form a pieces for solo saxophone that allows the performer to explore their own originality.
Finally, as the music forms part of a PhD research project, there is inevitably a lot more that I have written about the development of Picasso(s) as well as the theory and history of originality in art and music. Consequently, I would encourage anyone who’d like to know more about it to get in touch directly with me and I’d be happy to expand in moe detail!