Coming Up for Air explores the creative possibilities that emerge when pieces are limited to the performance of a single breath. Initially formed as a personal response to recovering from chronic respiratory conditions, the project invites composers to consider their own relationship to breath and the body's role in performance. The collection currently contains over 100 pieces and celebrates its inclusivity of composers of diverse ages, experience, and background. An album collecting 40 single-breath pieces is now available on Huddersfield Contemporary Records, in association with NMC.
"Strangely fascinating" (BBC Music Magazine)
"A catalogue of inventive ideas, delivered with singular wit and dedication" (The Quietus)
"...the audience response is also due to the playing – the evident enjoyment, energy and theatricality of Williams’ performances. Coming up for Air is a fascinating and rewarding project..." (TEMPO) Coming Up for Air has been performed and broadcast around the world. Submissions are invited to add to the ever-growing, ever-eclectic collection of responses to the question: what can be performed in one breath?
Coming Up for Air composition workshops are naturally inclusive to students of all ages and abilities. Engaging workshops have been given to students at Chetham's School of Music, Junior Royal Northern College of Music, Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, RNCM, Leeds University, Cambridge University, University of York, and Carnegie Mellon University (USA). Workshops are best given over two visits (in person or online): a talk/demonstration session followed by workshopping and recording new pieces.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for more details on submitting a one breath piece!
OPEN CALL FOR SINGLE-BREATH PIECES
Performance pieces which are limited to one inhale and one exhale (without circular breathing) can be written for any member of the flute family (with the broadest possible interpretation, including piccolo, C flute, alto, bass, breath, voice, objects, electronics, spoken word, etc). I will informally record and offer feedback on all the pieces I receive and will programme and record as many as possible. I am keen to hear from all composers of any age, experience, gender, or nationality.
Some points for getting started:
Include instructions for the inhale: the inhale is 50% of the piece! Even if you are intending to write material for exhale only, I strongly recommend showing engagement with inhalation. For examples of various approaches, watch the films below, particularly those which engage with sounds produced through inhaling: Mark Dyer's Memento for Kathryn where the inhale takes over one minute, Nina Whiteman's Thread which elongates the inhale to 20 seconds - with the mouthpiece turned in only taking in breath when the audio track (in my ear only) gives me a cue, and Megan Grace Beugger's Asthmatic Inhalation and Exhalation which uses suspension of exhale.
Structure can start either with lungs empty: inhale -> exhale OR start with lungs full: exhale <- inhale
Currently, I can elongate my inhale to around 40-60 seconds, continuously exhale for 60-80 seconds, and remain static for 10-20 seconds at a time.
Please get in touch via form below. If you are submitting a piece ahead of my visit to your institution, please make this clear in the comments box.