Exquisite Corpse

2019 Part Three: Build a Musical Practice

Lester St. Louis

This piece is to get you, the reader, to design your own musical performance system. The idea is simple : the reader—who is possibly the composer and performer—will use the score excerpts replicated here in reference to the compositional elements [listed below] to create guidelines for how the music should be performed. To put it simply, if you take some fundamental building blocks of music, separate them, filter the blocks through a piece of music, and put them back together ; you get a piece. If you take this idea and keep doing it, you have a system, open the system to others and build layers and you have a practice.

I would like the reader to be aware that music is not only isolated moments and works but also practices that are built upon. In some musical practices or even genres, pieces of music are less explicitly important in the face of how the music is navigated, communicated between players, and transmitted to the listener. Using the score excerpts below and the list of elements, build your system.

Step 1: Build an Understanding of the Key Concepts

First you must define the ideas in these key concepts so that you may utilize them. Once your references to concepts have a starting place they have more room to grow.

Key concepts :
Melodic design
Harmonic design
Rhythmic design
Formal design
Pulse and temporal relationships
Timbre, sonic space, and amplitude

Step 2: Analyze the Excerpts to Generate the Sources

I use the score excerpts very intentionally to restate the importance of making an analysis of the elements you see in these excerpts and constructing a way to make the elements a multifunctional form. Take the key concepts and ask how each of them function in the above pieces.

Step 3: Decide What You Want to Take from the Excerpts

Find the elements of the score you view as fundamental for your first simulation.

Step 4: Consolidate, Formulate, Trial and Error

At this step you have made decisions and communicated to the other musicians how you would like to proceed with the music. Now you play and see what happens. Does the outcome work for you ? What adjustments need to be made ? How can the results and the expectations better meet each other ?

Step 5: Analyze, Reformulate, Repeat

This is a crucial step. Repetition is key just as when practicing a piece of music. The more you break down and formulate the more cycles of understanding occur which, in turn, keep giving you access to what it is that makes your practice what it is. Most importantly keep building it with others.

2019 Part Three: Build a Musical Practice