containing the theoretical text with relevant excerpts from the scores and sound recordings
This thesis consists of a web of music compositions, recordings of these works and a theoretical commentary. In the context of this practice-based research a specific compositional method is constructed - Morphing Modality. It is informed by the image morphing technique from the visual arts and takes into account some aspects of music psychology, perception and cognition. It involves a particular approach to ‘modality’ where the monophonic horizontal harmony and modulation from the theory and practice of Eastern Chant interacts with particular kinds of morphing texture, inspired by micropolyphony, heterophony, linear polyphony and aleatorics, creating fluid morphing modal harmony. As a whole it reflects my quest for a holistic and integral, yet very flexible systematic approach to pitch organisation, which would enable me to achieve the extreme contrasts in harmony required by my aesthetics generally, without the need to switch constantly between differing harmonic techniques, which in my previous compositions had involved an intermix of tonal, ‘modal’, atonal and twelve-tone systems, which were all replaced in my practice subsequently by the system of Morphing Modality developed within this research. In this thesis the concept of ‘mode’ and ‘modality’ is broadened and refined practically and theoretically, resulting in a technique where semitonal and microtonal; modal, atonal and tonal aspects are integrated within a single working method with its system of grounding principles, which are employed throughout the set of compositions and outlined in the commentary. That method provides particular opportunities for liberation of all elements of texture from vertical, intervallic, chordal and contrapuntal considerations, while keeping a precise and detailed control over the sense and colour of harmony. The concept of morphing is applied also to rhythm and musical form and is employed as a general tool for creating musical processes and for creating connections between initially disconnected elements in many aspects of the compositional process. The approach overall is a synthesis of Eastern and Western; Ancient and Modern music traditions, where an integral amalgamation of various stylistic, technical and theoretical elements creates new possibilities for exploration.