Dr Aaron Cassidy’s recent and current compositional work focuses on the development of a collection of vocal techniques that emerge out of a separation and stratification of the various physiological components of sound production in the voice. The separated layers are recombined in unusual and unpredictable ways to generate unstable and often unexpected results, due in large part to differences among singers’ vocal mechanisms that are typically smoothed over or minimized in traditional vocal and choral vocal techniques.

First phase

The first phase of the project was A painter of figures in rooms, commissioned for EXAUDI vocal ensemble by the PRSF New Music 20×12programme in association with the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and BBC Radio 3. The research on the project, which centred around developing a vocal tablature notation that specified physiological actions and states rather than resulting sounds, was further supported by a generous grant from the University Research Fund, which enabled a series of development workshops with the singers of EXAUDI and an extended residency at CeReNeM. A recording of the July 2012 Southbank Centre premiere is available on NMC, and a studio recording will be released by HCR in late 2012.

Current phase

The current phase of the project is a book of etudes for solo voice which will extend, expand, and refine the materials first presented in A painter of figures in rooms. The project is being developed in collaboration with a number of vocalists, including Peyee Chen, Carl Rosman, and several singers from EXAUDI. Performances of the first batch of etudes are scheduled for early 2013. The final phase of the project will focus on a work for solo voice and vocalizing instrumental ensemble.