Letter Piece 8: Sit Up Stand Down

Performed by Ensemble Offspring at the Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music, 2013.
Video by Corey Hague.


Performed by Besides at World Music Days @ Handelsbeurs in Gent, Belgium on 30 October 2012

LP#5 (Northern Cities) -- Mike Schmid & Tom Pauwels

performed at 2011 Tzlil Meudcan, Isreal
Letter Pieces is an ongoing series of short performance pieces that I began composing in 2007. They combine physical actions, text and sound. You can read more about them by clicking here.

Most of the pieces are duos. A list of the current Letter Pieces is listed on the left side column of this page with specifications for each one.

Below you can see videos of different performances. In Letter Pieces performers create their own material, so two performances of the same Letter Piece sound and look very different.

LP#5 (Northern Cities) -- Mark Knoop & Tom Pauwels

Letter Piece Quartets

Shila Anaraki and I made two Letter Piece quartets in 2010.

LPQ1: Five Finger Discount

LPQ2: Mixed Doubles

Performed by Letter Piece Company
Transit Festival (Belgium), October 2010

LP4 performed in Sydney

Katia Molino, Jason Noble & Damien Ricketson (hidden!)
As part of the Ensemble Offspring's Sounds Absurd show at CarriageWorks. 30/11/10

LP#5 (Northern Cities) -- Parkinson/Saunders

Performed at Michael Tippet Centre, Bath

LP#6 (Five Monuments Of Our Time)

Ricciotti Ensemble
Conductor: Gijs Kramers
Carmal College, Emmen, The Netherlands

LP#1 (Arsenal) -- David Helbich & Mark Knoop

Performed at ICMSN, University of York (6 July 2007)

LP#3 (Australia) -- Shila Anaraki & Tomma Wessel

Performed at Rational Rec (London)

LP#3 ("Australia") -- Sasha Milavic Davies & Lucy Railton

Performed at the Old Queen's Head Pub, London (Broken Toy Records Event)

LP#1 (Arsenal) -- performed by Shila Anaraki & Tomma Wessel

Performed at Festival Made, part of the Flandres Festival (Gent)

LP#4 (Adams) -- Peter Willcock & Vicky Wright

Performed at the National Portrait Gallery, London (16 May 2008)

LP#2 (Assam) -- Shila Anaraki & Tomma Wessel

Performed at Rational Rec, London (4 March 2008)

What are Letter Pieces?

Letter Pieces is an ongoing series of short performance pieces that I began composing in 2007. They combine physical actions, text and sound. Each Letter Piece has a score, positioning a small number of physical actions and sound objects - which the players invent - in a fixed order. I have called them Letter Pieces because the scores use letters to represent these sounds and actions. To put it simply, I’ve created the structure and the players create the content; two enactments of the same piece may look and sound entirely different.

The performer's actions may relate to any visual language. They could be from a specific language (e.g. dance, ballet, mime, sign language), or actions from everyday life (e.g. driving a car). Musicians have also enacted the visual part, sometimes using physical-actions associated with playing their instruments.

The music part is equally open. Performers may create sound events that relate to any musical/sonic language, and use conventional / non-conventional, electronic / accoustic instrument(s).

The pieces are all beat based. Each visual or sonic event is always one beat long; as each piece has a different tempo a beat may range from half a second to two seconds in length.

A passage of score looks like this:
PERFORMER --- A + B + + A + B C
MUSICIAN ------ A + B + A + B + C

NOTE: the symbol “+” denotes a one beat rest, indicating to the performer to hold still in a neutral position or to the musician to be silent.

A visual or sonic event may be a single visual action/sound, or a complex of actions/sounds that form a gestalt. For instance, a sound-object could be a single note or it could be a gesture that is made up of a bunch of notes perceived as a single event. Each event should be distinct, discrete and performed exactly the same way each time without variation (unless instructed otherwise).

In some of the pieces the performers construct narratives. For instance, in Letter Piece 1 the visual performer is asked to construct a narrative sequence in five actions; A, B C, D and E.

A - Getting on a bicycle
B - Riding along
C - Looking terrified
D - Evading something
E - Falling off

Players may think about the relationship between the visual and sonic dimensions in different ways. The five sound events could be unrelated to one another (other than “sounding good” together), and not obviously relate to the physical-actions. Likewise, the sound events could also be conceived mimetically, for instance: the visual action of knocking on a door matched with a knocking sound, or a raising-of-eyebrows matched with an ascending musical figure. Both approaches are valid.