Coming Up for Air explores the creative possibilities that emerge when pieces are limited to the performance of a single breath. Initially formed as my 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 single-breath pieces and celebrates its inclusivity of composers of diverse ages, experience, and background.
Performances include Deep Minimalism 2.0 (London), Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music (Australia), Royaumont Abbey (France), Kammer Klang (London), Snape Maltings (Suffolk), Norwegian Academy of Music (Oslo), and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.
John Webb 'One Breath Bop'
Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music, September 2019. Photo: Bendigo Advertiser.
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
Click here to read my interview on the project in Tempo.
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.