NonZeroSum Ensemble

At the start of June I was able to visit Derry as part of the Walled City of Musc Festival to work with NonZeroSum, a combined ensemble of Benyounes String Quartet and Acoustronic – a group of musicians with additional suppprt needs who play, create and perform regularly together at the University of Ulster. THe Acoustronic instrumentation used was Thumbjam x2, Ableton Push x2.

I had previously worked with members of the group previously through Inclusive Creativity, though this time I was less sure of the strengths and abilities of the musicians. Whilst this proved challenging, I was able to consider past compositions and experiences to leave space for flexibility, freedom and interpretation – specifically incorporating elements of improvisation (through listening and reacting), setting certain parameters or trends alongside detailing and defining pitch/rhythmic material to create a cohesive work.

The resulting piece, ‘Partners in Crime’, focuses on encouraging and facilitating musical dialogue, where each string player is paired up with an Acoustronic player with their parts created to allow for and foster reflection, reaction and response to each other. Generally this went down really well and partnerships were developed, explored and honed with each practice. It also made me aware of potential points to consider further in future work for further adaptability with some elements – balance, timing and momentum/trajectory – proving tricky at times.

(the two Thumbjam patches)

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