Arising from a current strand of exploration around ideas of impermanence and the ephemeral, At First Light, a vocal meditation, was inspired by the play of light at sunrise and a notion that each moment may be filled with the past, present and future. The process of making the piece involved repeated exploration of the material ideas using a simple MAXMSP patch, with the final work being created in a single real-time improvisation. While a version of the piece was ultimately fixed to become At First Light, inherent in the process and the material is an idea of transient evolution – emergence, cycle and decay.
Sonic Bothy was one of several Glasgow Life/City Council partnered projects submitted to the National Music Council Awards, and was very excited to receive the Paritor Award for New Music in Education. Read more about the Paritor Award and other winners at the National Music Council website.
Read more about Sonic Bothy inclusive new music ensemble here.
After being awarded my PhD from University of Glasgow I worked as a Teaching Fellow in Music there for two years.
2009-2011 University of Glasgow (Music) Teaching Fellow (0.6 fte)
In brief, areas of work included:
Sonic Arts Levels II and III;
Practice-based Composition Workshops;
Contemporary Music Ensemble;
Lectures in Music and Technology;
Advising UG Dissertations and students on the MLitt in Popular Music Studies (Creative Practice);
First GLEAM concert organiser;
Music Education Project Organiser;
2004-2009 University of Glasgow (Music):
Graduate Teaching Assistant
Songs for a Stranger is a collection or cycle of five electroacoustic works that draws metaphorical inspiration from the many senses of the word ‘stranger’.
Everyone feels like a stranger sometimes – when travelling somewhere new; returning home; confronting solitude. Some feel estranged in close intimacy; others find connection through anonymity.
Songs for a Stranger movements:
i A Fragile Memory (4’40)
ii Blowing In (5′)
iii Solitude? (4’26)
iv I Said You Said (5′)
v In the Midst (4’39)
The piece was premiered in the intimate ‘dark space’ at The Arches LIVE! Festival in September 2011, performed and diffused over a 4-channel speaker system. Vocal performance: me and Céline Hänni. Sound diffusion: Graeme Truslove. Many thanks indeed to the staff at The Arches.
Songs for a Stranger was further supported by a Creative Scotland Quality Arts Production Award.
**** Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman 23/0911, Arches Live!, Glasgow
……And down at the rough end of the basement, in a bare tunnel of a room, there’s composer Nichola Scrutton’s Songs For A Stranger, a 25-minute piece that moves beyond the limits of language into five segments of abstract electronic sound, accompanied by the increasingly fierce and brilliant vocal improvisations of Scrutton and her performing partner, Celine Hanni. There’s a central moment of meditation – titled Solitude – that recalls the deep resonances of Tibetan chant; then a final, shattering visit to what sounds like a dying rainforest, as a fierce richness of animal sound gives way to crackling cataclysm, and the soft, low sigh of a final breath….
*** Mary Brennan, The Herald (“…as a live performance, full of vertiginous vocal techniques, it was always impressive…”)
2014 Selected Artist, Voix Brutes Vol II, Audition Records, Berlin (v: in the midst)
2012 Basic.fm, broadcast by Pixel.Palace, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (v: in the midst)
2011 The Arches LIVE! Festival, Glasgow
The Dwelling Series is a triptych of vocal works. Multiple concepts arising from the notion of the title Dwelling gave rise to an interactive process of improvising and recording with MAXMSP, through which I sought to explore a sense of ‘inhabiting’ the work. As inspiration for generating improvised material under this complex umbrella concept of ‘dwelling’ I used three general metaphors to articulate events or states: dust (essence), cycle (flow/journey) and echo (memory).
The compositional process
The compositional process consisted of creating successive vocal improvisations, which were merged together, fully intact, after each improvisation was captured. Manipulation of the captured improvisations was strictly limited to the editing of gestures and textures in time and space to enhance or magnify relationships/conflicts that emerged by chance as each layer was added.
(i) Dwelling/In Dialogue: studio composition (17′).
(ii) Dwelling/Encounters: pre-composed sound and live performance, in which two live performers merged and improvised with a pre-composed soundtrack projected through multiple loud speakers. Swiss vocalist Céline Hänni and I undertook a short intensive residency to explore extended technique vocal improvisation that culminated in the final performance. (12’30)
(iii) Dwelling/In Reflection: live interactive solo performance (18′)