Cartographies for a navigation through timbral dramaturgies

  • Manuel Contreras Vázquez

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This commentary accompanies a portfolio of works composed between 2018 and 2021. My research explores a cartographic approach to conceiving timbre and dramaturgy. I see the cartographic approach as an orientation exercise or scheme of thought combining graphics, sketches, notes, drawings, and manuscripts to obtain a project’s overview and to navigate structural relationships in ‘sonic places’. I conceive sonic places as acoustic realities inhabited and travelled by the listener through the pathways proposed in my works. My pieces follow an expansion principle from timbre to dramaturgy using analogical and flexible skills. On one hand, the analogical tactics of this principle involve explorations on large sheets of paper, the use of domestic objects, and the manipulation of instruments by myself to define the behaviour and organization of events. On the other hand, the flexible tools of my expansion principle contain translations between notation and other aspects of my projects such as stage design, visual elements, or movements, stimulating greater freedom to explore relationships between the multiple dimensions of my projects. In the submitted pieces, the imagination of timbre emerges from strategies such as mapping sound landscapes or explorations with graphics where their components are combined, orchestrated, overlapped, and amplified by a system of categories that organise sonic events and textures in terms of hierarchy, geometry, pathway, and density. Furthermore, these categories consider expansions from timbre toward spatial and visual elements and, particularly, addressing a notion of dramaturgy embodied in the idea of ‘acts’ deduced from a text, the observation of a performance space, or from the issue that inspired the project.
Date of Award5 Sep 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBryn Harrison (Main Supervisor) & Aaron Cassidy (Co-Supervisor)

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