‘Extended’ Techniques


Yesterday I attended some presentations by DMA candidates at the Qld Con, including one by cellist John Addison who intends to write a new textbook of sorts on contemporary techniques for the cello – for performers rather than for composers. I was surprised to hear that such a thing does not yet exist, given the three such volumes for flute that I own (Artaud, Dick & Levine)! John spoke a while about the term ‘extended’ techniques, and his opposition to it. He sees it as ridiculous that a set of techniques might have been developed over a period that might be considered ‘standard’, from which point all techniques are ‘extended’.

Such a distinction does seem redundant from the point of view of a performer who does a lot of improvising, for whom ‘sound’ is the primary characteristic of music (followed by style and harmonic content). But composed music – not all (for example, not necessarily the music of the emerging composers of what I will call the ‘impuls tradition’), but most of what I am most interested in – still deals in notes. Presumably an ‘extended’ technique would be anything beyond the traditional sounding of said note. So I’m not sure I have such a big problem with the term.

Mardi McSullea also presented in this session – her topic is Boulez’s …explosante-fixe… series of works, and how the role of the performer has been dealt with over the life of the work (in it’s three versions – 1985, now retracted, 1991 and 1993). This is also in relationship to the electronics, and she is investigating what the electronics might contribute dramatically as well as acoustically, and what this might mean for the performer/s. Fascinating stuff! The presentations yesterday far outdid anything I’ve yet had the misfortune to sit through at my own institution…


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