Chrome Attic: an interdisciplinary approach to interpreting and performing early chromatic keyboard repertoire
Chrome Attic is an interdisciplinary project combining research, harpsichord performance, and photography in a scholarly and performative exploration of chromaticism and chiaroscuro, the dramatic use of light and shadow, contrasts found in both music and visual art. I seek connections between keyboard chromaticism and its vocal counterparts, as well as innovative pieces for viol consort. I find parallels between radical musical devices that exploit a bold harmonic language and the use of tenebrism, dramatic illumination in Baroque paintings that evoke intensely-charged emotionalism, inspiring my own contemporary photography using chiaroscuro techniques. Through my engagement with split-keyed chromatic keyboards, including a sabbatical visit to the impressive Studio31+ in Basel, Switzerland—which houses a fascinating collection of modern reproductions of early keyboard instruments, each with more than twelve pitches to the octave (19, 31, or more than 38 pitches)—I consider how these revolutionary and daring experiments in micro-tonality and multi-tonality influence our interpretive decisions when choosing workable tuning systems for performances of these chromatic compositions. I contemplate on what is gained or lost in translation by performing on enharmonic keyboards versus fully chromatic ones with split keys, each option rendering intervallic relationships differently. Bringing historically informed performance into the 21st century, I embark on a hybrid approach to music-making, employing microtonality and a visual lens. In this way, artistic interpretation and musical expression become multi-dimensional, producing a rich and colourful soundscape for performer and audience.
Conference description: The 2nd International Conference on Performance and Creativity aims to bring together scholars and performer/scholars researching keyboard performance on 1700—1850 repertory and will explore current research and possible future developments in historical performance research. In particular, this conference will take full advantage of the historical keyboard collection of the Department of Music.