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Programme Notes

Commissioned by Contemporary Music for All (CoMA), and published in their book
‘partsongs’ (2018), Rounding develops a new manner of creating music, as a participatory
experience involving a group of amateur musicians. The goal of the work is to engage with a
group’s members as unique individuals—each with their own lived experience of listening,
meditating, and sounding—rather than relying on any unifying background education (reading
music, vocal or choral training). The score functions as instructions for the realisation of the
composition process, as well as the realisation of the performance. The work provides an
environment wherein the performers learn and share embodied knowledge of musicking.
The composition is part of a long-term engagement with embodied research focussed by a
method I call ‘automatic singing’, an iterative process of musical (and personal) transformation
that involves singing-along to music while meditating. Unlike my previous work in automatic
singing, this piece is the first in which the participants are not required to physically share space
with the composer to realise the composition. As a result, Rounding is the only case in which the
automatic singing method has been described in a score—greatly expanding the method’s reach
and significance. Each realisation of the work functions as research into the transmission of
embodied technique, as can be seen in the notable performance in the online participatory event
on the theme ‘isolated meditation’, organised by Manchester-based ensemble SHOAL (spring
2020, in lock-down due to COVID-19). Rounding carries implications for composition-as-embodied-research, meditation-based artistic
practices, process-led or collaborative composition practices, the academic field of voice studies,
epistemology of technique (embodied knowledge), and community group creativity—and it serves
as a significant and original contribution to the repertoire of experimental music for amateurs
Cassandra Miller


Milton Court, Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London, United Kingdom)