Release of Lauren Redhead’s ‘the octopus’ digital opera

On December 1st, Lauren Redhead released her online album: the octopus, on the net label: pan y rosas discos. In the description, Lauren describes her piece as a digital opera written and imagined from the underwater perspective of the octopus. The initial inspiration comes from Victor Hugo’s novel les travailleurs de la mer (1866) and includes the imagined expressions, experience and sound of the changing ocean environment. There is an 8-page graphic score for instrumentalists, there is sound poetry written by both Lauren and by poet Kat Peddie. Nowhere in these scores are there theatrical indications, nor is there a simple narrative or story line. Instead the recording, heard as a piece of fixed media rather than of a performance, is a version (of a potentially infinite number) of the recordings of the interpretations and text readings made according to the composer’s plan.

The many-layered quality of this music comes partly as a result of the collaborative process with poet, singer (Rebecca Hardwick), and the ensemble of musicians (Paul Cheneour, Maureen Wolloshin, and myself). During the summer I was sent all 8 pages of the graphic score to record my reactions/responses and interpretations on the violin. I was allowed to do this as freely as I felt necessary. By doing this this kind of work becomes a kind of miniature project, and becomes as important to me as I make it, the quality of my interpretation was therefore wholly my responsibility. The instructions were to interpret the graphic score as I saw fit, and that there were no limitations or prescriptions on how I should do this. One of the scores presents the performer with a grid of boxes, each of which is filled with a set of pitches on a five-line system. I addressed this particular score by placing an acetate sheet on top of the score and drew arrows to show me which box to interpret next, documentary images of this can be seen here. This comprised the initial round of working and recording the material for this piece

A second round took place during a recording session in Faversham, with Trio CZW. Here I was joined by Paul Cheneour (flutes), and Maureen Wolloshin (oboe) to go through the graphic scores and interpret and improvise from the 8 pages of graphic score. During this recording, Lauren made a short video that partly documents this album release.

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