Spectral morphology in performance

Milton Court Studio Theatre
Lecture recital & performance


Spectral morphology in performance

Throughout the late twentieth century, many performers, improvisers and composers have developed and expanded the range of sonorities available from orchestral instruments. The oboe offers a particularly rich range of possibilities as the performer is able to intimately control the double reed and the oboe mechanism offers a wide variety of fingering combinations. Nevertheless, the contemporary repertoire has pushed virtuosity to the limits and it is opportune to revisit the design of the oboe.

In 2009, Christopher Redgate began an AHRC-funded research project at the Royal Academy of Music to create a new oboe in collaboration with the British manufacturer Howarth of London. The new oboe is now in production, and ten works have been commissioned for the new instrument.

With the addition of several keys, the new oboe vastly increases the range of sonorities available on the instrument from some 800 multiphonics on the conventional oboe to some 2,500 on the new Howarth-Redgate instrument. Many of these multiphonics are mobile, and offer exciting opportunities to create a music in flux.

Christopher Redgate and Paul Archbold have been engaged in a collaborative research programme for the last decade, making research documentaries examining the contemporary oboe repertoire, writing compositions, and performing new work for oboe and live electronics across the globe. In this paper, Redgate and Archbold discuss the acoustics of the new oboe, and demonstrate the creative possibilities of live spectral morphology in improvisation and in composition.

Ppaul archboldaul Archbold studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music and at the University of Durham. His compositions have been performed by several of the leading exponents of contemporary music in the United Kingdom including Arditti Quartet, Exposé, Gemini, Kreutzer Quartet, and have been broadcast in the UK and across the globe. He has held lectureships at the universities of Huddersfield and Durham and is currently Reader in Music at Kingston University London and Director of the Institute of Musical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London. He is active as a performer of live electronic music, and regularly collaborates with the oboist Christopher Redgate.

christopher redgateChristopher Redgate is currently the Evelyn Barbirolli Research Fellow at the Royal Academy of Music and the designer of the Howarth-Redgate system oboe. Since his student days at the Academy he has specialised in the performance of contemporary music and developed significantly several aspects of oboe technique, leading him to a re-evaluation of a number of performance practices. His work in this field has led many composers to write for him. He has recorded many solo CDs, broadcast on Radio Three, and preformed extensively throughout the world. He also gives many masterclasses for oboists and composers and writes extensively for professional magazines and academic books.

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