Co-commissioned by International Contemporary Ensemble (New York) and PRiSM, the Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music at the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester, UK). PRiSM is funded by the Research England fund Expanding Excellence in England (E3).

First performed on 16th May 2024 by the International Contemporary Ensemble (conducted by Vimbayi Kaziboni) at the Roulette Intermedium, Brooklyn, New York, USA

  • pictpt/2perc/
  • 8 min

Programme Note

Ligament (2024) is a through-composed acoustic work for chamber ensemble. 

Inspiration for Ligament grew out of collective artistic and computational experimentation in our weekly meetings at the Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music (PRiSM) at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK. Our conversations were focused on the development of PRiSM’s Music Gesture Recognition (MGR) improvisation software in tandem with diverse artistic responses. Ligament questions the very notion of musical gesture following testing that demonstrated that the MGR tool likes short gestures best (or at least it did at the time of writing this work: development is ongoing).

The word ligament has several meanings including in a physical sense ‘a tough fibrous band of connective tissue’, literally holding bones and organs in place within our bodies. It also means ‘bond’ in a more metaphorical sense, for example a bond between humans, or perhaps between human and machine. Drawing on these meanings, Ligament connects with my earlier orchestral work Antisphere (2019), responding to a very short looping gesture within Antisphere by alternating sections of more expansive loops with faster, punchier versions in off-kilter ways that I enjoy.

Ligament is dedicated to the International Contemporary Ensemble. A heartfelt thanks to everyone at PRiSM and ICE, to George Lewis, and to PRiSM’s Research Software Engineer Hongshuo Fan for all of the many conversations that have taken place. 

Ligament can be performed as a standalone piece of music (around 8') or as part of a larger performance concept involving an improvised response to Ligament by the ensemble and software. 

Emily Howard, April 2024