Second Square To None

Amanda Feery - Soilsubsoil by SSTN Strings

Very happy to present a new piece by Irish composer Amanda Feery as part of our Strings Series.

Tell us a little about your musical background ie influences, formative experiences, bands you play/played in.

I started piano when I was 7 and hated lessons. I used to teach myself exam pieces during the summer so I had enough time to play tunes I liked. My Mum always had music blaring around the house so I would learn songs l liked by ear (like, the B52’s..). This way of learning music was rewarding, and I was able to figure out the rudiments of music on my own through listening, rather than chewing my pencil over a workbook. I started clarinet when I was 11, thrown in the deep end completely, playing with a marching band. Like most grungy preteens, I also started playing guitar. Performance was a huge part of my musical life in my teens, but when I started a music degree, I neglected performance, and started composing. My teacher, Donnacha Dennehy, was/is a great inspiration, but I was a very bold undergraduate student, not wholly interested in all of the classes I was taking, and it wasn’t until I started my masters that I began taking composition seriously. Playing by ear, and working things out on the keyboard definitely shaped the way I write music today. That, and the volume level my Mum played music at home (loudness, lovely).

Describe your process/approach to music-making/composition. Is this piece (ie the one submitted to SSTN) typical of this?

It all depends. If I’m writing an acoustic work I like to try get my hands on the instruments I’m writing for, or at least listen to samples of various idiomatic or unconventional playing techniques. That usually sparks off a few ideas. Then I’ll work at the keyboard and come up with a very rough plan, which I never stick to. If I’m writing an electroacoustic piece I’ll start off playing around with the electronic part because it’s more immediate. Whatever I come up with for the electronic part usually dictates the acoustic part. When it comes to electronics, I work mostly with field recordings, with some processing. For this piece, I recorded myself trying to play the violin and used some viola samples from a piece I wrote for Cora Venus Lunny, with a lot more processing than usual.

What sort of equipment (e.g. instruments, computer, hardware, home made gear etc.) do you use to make your sounds?

I have a computer with Ableton Live, a field recorder, and a loop pedal. I don’t have a huge collection of instruments, but someday I’d like a room full of string, wind and percussion instruments, homemade or traditional. For the moment I rely on the kindness of others to let me record whatever instruments they own!

Info on upcoming gigs, preferred web address, releases etc.

October, Severed Head Gallery
December, National Concert Hall, work for string quartet.

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