A Portfolio of Original Compositions

  • Simon Hellewell

Student thesis: Phd


The musical score is often seen as a prescriptive set of instructions, leaving room for expressive interpretation, but following a fixed path from beginning to end. Where this is not the case, one might often expect a far more abstract ‘graphic score’ such as Earle Brown’s December 1952 or Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise, substituting a trend towards prescription for a focus on a more open performer interpretation. This portfolio explores the wealth of space between these practices. From the outset, pieces have been developed around a ‘score concept’, a layout for a score on which music can then be written, primarily utilising relatively fixed standard notation over abstract prompts for improvisation. This score concept then serves both as an influence upon my own compositional process and an aesthetic design on the page for the performer(s). This practice particularly builds on the contributions of George Crumb, expanding this practice to embrace the potential for contingent practice within shaped scores. While this blend of aesthetic and functional scoring, often termed ‘augenmusik’, is not without controversy, this portfolio utilises it to explore a space between aesthetics and function, between linearity and non-linearity, between openness and fixity, and between experimental and standard musical practices. These liminal spaces have revealed a valuable area worthy of further creative research.
Date of Award1 Aug 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRichard Whalley (Supervisor) & Ricardo Climent (Supervisor)


  • open form
  • open
  • open work
  • open structure
  • contingent musical practice
  • Music
  • indeterminate music
  • shaped scores
  • graphic scores
  • Experimental music
  • contingency

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