New methods for developing collaboration in environmental composition (PhD thesis): portfolio of works (compositions and performances)

Posted on 2024-06-26 - 13:42 authored by HARRY MATTHEWS

This item contains a portfolio of works relating to the PhD thesis, New methods for developing collaboration in environmental composition, by doctoral candidate, Harry Matthews.


This practice-based PhD research explores the intersections of noise, socially engaged art, and trespass, culminating in the development of an approach to experimental composition termed 'socially curious composition'— an inclusive, collaborative model that fosters creativity. The commentary begins with an exploration into environmental sounds and a critical examination of acoustic ecology, laying the foundation for a study of noise. By challenging the subjectivity in sound categorisation through noise, this work seeks to reconceptualise our understanding of community dynamics and connections within local audible environments. This research represents a significant transition in my work from traditional composerperformer hierarchies towards a model that emphasises the creative autonomy of all participants. This framework broadens the artistic contributions of everyone involved in the creative process. My methods position performers and audience members as indispensable, and I detail how principles from socially engaged art can enhance these connections. I trace an evolutionary trajectory from initial investigations of acoustic ecology to the present application of socially engaged composition methods, highlighting how this progression enriches experimental composition discourse. I also undertake an exploration of 'trespass' to confront and transcend the boundaries encountered by a socially curious approach. Trespass is positioned as a mechanism to leverage curiosity in diluting noise as a barrier, suggesting new possibilities for engagement with local environments, and enabling navigation beyond perceived barriers. This research contributes to the field of experimental composition by focusing on my progression as a composer and its impact on my compositions. Though these insights may not be universally applicable, they offer a unique perspective on the creative process. The concept of 'socially curious composition,' though still in its nascent stages, presents an approach with potential to influence the broader field of experimental composition. This research promotes a process and product-oriented approach, recognising that the subjectivity in evaluating effectiveness allows for the appreciation of diverse outcomes across various social contexts. 


Scores and performances of the following compositions:

1. electric guitar, in Southmead (2018)

2. With Juliet (2019)

3. Filtered Reality (in a garden in London) (2020)

4. Home & Away Chords (2021-22)

5. Locating and Listening, Playing and Stopping (2019)

6. Distraction Piece (2022)

7. Make to Share (2022)

8. The Other Side of the Sign (2021)

All works, unless otherwise stated, were created by Harry Matthews.


Ben Jameson, Caitlin Rowley, Juliet Fraser, Daniel Molloy, Nebula Percussion Quartet, Out-Take Ensemble, Elliot Simpson, Decibel Ensemble, Plus-Minus Ensemble

PhD supported by the ESRC South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWDTP).

The thesis is linked in the reference field below. 


3 Biotech
3D Printing in Medicine
3D Research
3D-Printed Materials and Systems
AAPG Bulletin
AAPS PharmSciTech
Abhandlungen aus dem Mathematischen Seminar der Universität Hamburg
ABI Technik (German)
Academic Medicine
Academic Pediatrics
Academic Psychiatry
Academic Questions
Academy of Management Discoveries
Academy of Management Journal
Academy of Management Learning and Education
Academy of Management Perspectives
Academy of Management Proceedings
Academy of Management Review
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South West Doctoral Training Partnership (SWDTP)

Economic and Social Research Council


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