D. Mind Maps


As part of investigating and mapping my technique and vocabulary, and also as a preparation for the project described in chapters 4 and 5, I made a structured inventory list of material I found to be representative of my vocabulary. This list was developed into two conceptual mind maps which represent connections between sounds and reflect upon:

1. The material/objects used to produce sounds.
2. The actions/playing methods used to produce sounds.

My aim in making these maps was to show the complex interactions and potentialities that objects provide as material agents in music making, and to demonstrate how I work and perform with them. The maps illustrate the interdependence of objects and actions, as well as my own musical thinking and categorizing; they also reflect how I intuitively map my vocabulary when I improvise.

The Object Mind Map

First, I mapped sounds through the objects that I used to produce them, as this seemed to me like the most natural and practical way to group sounds. Lines indicate connections between sounds in the map. I note that I list my hands as an object when I use them without any additional objects to produce sounds with, inside the piano or on the keyboard. As there are many different ways of using one single object, I tried to be as clear and short in my descriptions as possible.


The Playing Method Mind Map

I also produced a second map that illustrates the relation between sounds and the methods or playing techniques used to produce them. I chose to start with the basic sound-producing mechanisms and actions used to set the strings, etc., in motion, including strik- ing, bowing, and plucking.

In the process of making the map, I soon found that I needed subgroups and had to invent new terms to differentiate between similar playing methods and to describe them in more detail.

I was not always able to find them in descriptions of other string instruments’ playing methods either, and some techniques seemed too idiosyncratic to describe by recourse to a general terminology—e.g., the sound produced by making a column-shaped magnet vibrate on a string. Reflecting on my playing methods and the intentions behind certain actions, I noticed a strong aleatoric element. I chose to group those sounds together under the term initiating: after the initial action of setting some- thing in motion, the movement/vibration and sound either continues without any further agency from my side, or the sounding result is in some ways beyond my control, and intentionally so.

Importantly, I found that the attitude or intention behind all of the sounds in the initiating group, whilst connected with other categories of sound-producing mechanisms (in the case of throwing a magnet on a string it would entail initiating as well as striking) differed from the rest of the methods that I use.

The compositional possibilities of the two approaches detailed in these two maps, exist simultaneously and to differing degrees, can be amplified, re-linked, combined, or applied to other objects and actions. The endless nuances of technique are impossible to entirely capture in such maps, yet the attempt of collecting, mapping, systematizing, and repeatedly performing still revealed a myriad of details and suggested a range of possible transitions to me—timbral as well

as temporal and spatial.

In chapter 3 of the thesis, I discuss the Mind Maps, as well as a collection of short stories by different practitioners, reflecting the manifold and unique ways that technique and vocabulary in music making are developed through objects.