Performers’ Insights into this is not natural [transfiguration]

Performers’ Insights into
this is not natural

by Michael Baldwin

this is not natural [transfiguration]

In 2013/14 I worked with three musicians Pieter Lenaerts (double bassist), Tomoko Honda (pianist) and Corey Klein (hornist) on a collaborative project. The result was a piece entitled this is not natural. The piece emphasizes the bodily movements of performers through slow-motion video retiming. After the premiere performance of the piece, I was interested to see how the work would be engaged with by performers coming from a movement-based background instead of a music background.

           On the 28th and 29th of July 2014 I conducted three workshop sessions with Franc Chamberlain, Hilary Elliott and Eilon Morris, members of The University of Huddersfield’s Drama Department. They are trained in movement, dance and theatre practices, and graciously agreed to put their skills to use working with musical instruments: a double bass, a piano and a horn. Franc worked with the double bass, Hilary with the piano and Eilon with the horn. Although Franc and Eilon had some background in music performance, all three had no specific training with respect to their assigned instruments.

           Using residual materials from this is not natural. Franc, Hilary, Elion and I devised a distinct derivation that I have titled this is not natural [transfiguration]. The residual material of this is not natural consists of video-scores; video documentation of rehearsals with Pieter, Tomoko and Corey; an orally transferred set of instructions for choreography and sound-production; and video of the premiere performance. For a fuller account of these residual materials and context regarding both the performance practice and premiere performance please refer to my previous writing on the piece (Baldwin, 2014).

The following are a series of questions I posed to Franc, Hilary and Eilon in response to our workshops and the devised performance. These questions provide the curious reader with information about aspects of movement, instrumental unfamiliarity/defamiliarization, functional listening, and technological mediation found in the work’s environment. In particular, the questions aim to bring to the foreground performer-centric insights on these issues.