MARC YEATS: COMPOSER, RESEARCHER & VISUAL ARTIST
His music is performed, commissioned and broadcast worldwide. Transduction, complex surface relationships, asynchronous alignments, contextual, harmonic and temporal ambiguities, polarised intensities and a visceral joy of sound are all primary concerns.
….‘how sour sweet music is, When time is broke and no proportion kept!’…. (William Shakespeare: Richard II, 5.5.42-9)
Marc Yeats is one of the UK’s leading contemporary composers with his works having been performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and stations across Europe, Asia and Australasia. Described by Sir Maxwell Davies as “breathtakingly original”, Marc’s music explores transduction, complex surface relationships, asynchronous alignments, contextual harmonic and temporal ambiguities, polarised intensities and a visceral joy of sound.
Marc’s music has received performances around the world including The Edinburgh String Quartet (UK), the Chamber Group of Scotland (UK), Psappha (UK), Geert Callaert (BE), the London Sinfonietta (UK), the Endymion Ensemble (UK), Paragon Ensemble (UK), the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (UK), 175 East (N.Z.), Sarah Watts, SCAW (UK), Sarah Nicolls, Federico Mondelci, Contempo Ensemble (Italy), Rarescale (UK), The Scottish Clarinet Quartet (UK), Symposia (UK), the New York Miniaturists Ensemble (US), Trio IAMA (Greece), Dirk Amrein (Germany) Expatrio (UK), Chroma (UK), Kokoro (UK), Consortium5 (UK), Gleb Kanasevich (US) Ensemble Amorpha (UK), Meridian Brass (UK), Syzygy Ensemble (AU) Chamber Cartel (US) Carlton Vickers (US), XelmYa (DE) the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (UK), the Hallé Orchestra and Chorus (UK) conducted by Sir Mark Elder, Tokyo City Philharmonic (Japan) and Gewandhaus Radio Orchestra (Germany).
Doctoral research at the University of Leeds as a WRoCAH Scholar and PhD candidate
Control, flexibility, Flux and Complexity: A Timecode-supported Approach to Polytemporal Orchestral Composition
My current interests in composition involve creating fluid music that simultaneously brings together multiple, fully notated lines of material that operate in different, unrelated tempi, where notated material is fixed against part-embedded timecode read in conjunction with ensemble/orchestra-wide loosely synchronised mobile phone stopwatches that enable performers to reference their relative notational positions to their timeline positions in the music during performance. This timecode-support provides a temporal framework that helps players maintain high degrees of structural and architectural cohesion despite the polytemporal, unsynchronised nature of the music. This polytemporal compositional approach explores the relationships between composer control (through notational signification – the instructions, signs and symbols on the page) and performer flexibility through mediation (how that notational signification is interpreted and especially how tempo indicators are mediated by players attempting to render specific speeds as indicated through precise tempo instructions). It is the flexible nature of the tension between composer control and player flexibility that produces flux, that is, a range of unpredictable (indeterminate) sonic outcomes brought about through the ever-changing contextual relationships of the material simultaneously mediated by multiple musicians. Resulting performances are never identical due to the shifts in these material contextual relationships – the flux produced – but do yield similar and recognisable versions of the original compositional model through the effective management of flux when using the temporal framework provided by timecode. This flexibility produces performances that are always sympathetic and acceptable renditions of my compositional model – my blueprint – to deliver dense, complex, polytemporal musical structures. With no unifying pulse or beat and with each player following their own temporal trajectory, there is no need for a conductor. Each player, by reading the timecode in their parts in conjunction with their stopwatches, is responsible for their own pulse. They are their own conductor. As there is no universal pulse-synchronisation there is no synchronised score produced for timecode-supported pieces. The flexible relationships between all instrumental parts cannot be usefully represented in a fixed and synchronised score format. Consequently, music is performed through parts alone. Therefore, timecode-supported polytemporal music for orchestra is conductor-less and scoreless with each musician performing in simultaneously independent tempi from parts alone. This compositional and performance method offers new possibilities in writing and performing multi-tempi music by balancing composer control and player mediation to support structural coherence and flexible performance outcomes in through-composed orchestral music using managed flux to create complex sonic relationships. Working with the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra, my research builds and tests new methodologies and repertoire in this undeveloped area of composition, producing a ‘how to’ tool-kit for other composers’ use.
Below is an example of timecode-supported polytemporal music for ensemble.
SATSYMPH LLP is international composer and visual artist Marc Yeats [centre]; poet, writer and context-aware media director and producer, Ralph Hoyte [right]; and coder, composer and audio engineer Phill Phelps [left]. SATSYMPH compose ‘context-aware soundworlds’ – located high-quality contemporary soundscape experiences outside in the real world triggered by GPS (satellite) signals. These ‘immersive soundworlds’ (or you can think of them as ‘virtual auditoria’) can be invested with contemporary music content, contemporary music/word fusions, poetry, heritage interpretive content, or with any desired audio content. SATSYMPH LLP was constituted in August 2011 and is registered with Companies House as a Limited liability Partnership. Marc is currently managing the App Building program for the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership: More HERE