Abigail Hellam

composer
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Video / Audio
duet for alto flutes with electronics
A live recording of a piece composed in five days as part of the rarescale Summer School. Performed by Beth Penny and Hannah Earl on alto flutes accompanied by myself with electronics at Harlaxton Manor, 4/8/2017.
Throughout the piece, I focused on producing an oscillating, pulsating texture through the use of various playing techniques such as flutter tongue and wide vibratos. I also wanted to play with the 'beating' sounds produced by having instruments playing at a semitone apart from one another. I then developed these ideas further by manipulating samples of the flute material and experimented with pitch shifting and various sound filters to extend the timbral range of the instruments without destroying their unique sound qualities.
to Anthropocene
A live recording of the first four minutes premiere of my piece 'to Anthropocene'. The piece was written for and performed by Carla Rees as part of the 'In Collaboration' concert of new works for solo flute at Royal Holloway's Picture Gallery, 6/3/2017.
The starting point of this piece was Bridget Riley’s painting ‘Fall’, which depicts gentle black and white curves steadily increasing in frequency until they are completely compressed at the bottom of the painting. When asked what the painting was about, Riley replied,
“I try to organise a field of visual energy which accumulates until it reaches maximum tension.”
For me, the painting can be seen as a reflection of how humanity has taken advantage of our environment: capitalising on our natural resources at an unsustainable rate that has changed our world perhaps indefinitely. Accelerated by the greed of mankind, our planet has transitioned from the Arcane to Anthropocene: the point where human activity has so irrevocably altered our planet that we have entered a new geological age.
I wanted to write a piece that revolves around the basic principles of the flute: air and overtones. I became fascinated by the way that air moving through the instrument at different velocities created different pitches which make up the harmonic series. The musical material is derived from rotations of these pitches, articulated through various different air speeds and techniques.
Carla Rees is a UK-based low flutes specialist who has developed an international reputation for her innovative work. She is Artistic Director of rarescale, an ensemble which celebrated its 10th Anniversary in 2013 with the premieres of 17 new works in 10 days. She was Programme Director for the British Flute Society International Conventions in 2012 and 2014, and currently serves as International Liaison for the National Flute Association of America, as well as being a member of their New Music Advisory and Low Flutes committees. She compl
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