Purdue Contemporary Dance Company

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Choreography by Emma G Maggart
Music Composition by Jeff Sherwood
First Showing with Music (Work in Progress)
Music Composition

Working closely with choreographer Emma G Maggart, we strived to create a piece that explored exigency, precision, pattern, travel, and direction through a complex map of humans moving about the space.  Inspired by music from Steve Reich, the music composition uses repetition and contrasting textures and timbres between instruments to build and release tension throughout the piece.  

The development process was stopped part way by the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown that cancelled the premiere performance.  The development has been postponed indefinitely but has potential to revive the project at a later date. The above recording of the First Showing displays the work in progress at the time of the shutdown.  

Collaboration Process

The choreographer Emma initially pointed us toward Steve Reich music as inspiration for the piece.  As I researched Reich's compositions and other minimalist genres, I was intrigued by the possibilities with repetition over long periods of time, while utilizing minimal variegations that become apparently impactful through the overarching progression of the piece.  

I began by mocking up model compositions, and I sent them to the choreographer to use in rehearsal as she devised the piece with the dancers.  Rather than one complete audio file, I provided shorter segments of music with varying degrees of mass and complexity.  As Emma worked with the dancers, she arranged the segments in a playlist that aligned with the desired tensions in the dance movement.  

Taking that playlist I smoothed out the transitions and focused establishing the arc of the piece, adding in contrasting moments.  

The music was performed, edited, and composed using Digital Performer with virtual instruments from EastWest.  

© 2021 Jeff Sherwood.