Professor Craig Vear

Job: Professor of Digital Performance (Music)

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Visual and Performing Arts

Research group(s): Music Technology and Innovation; Performance and Digital Media

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 207 8131

E: cvear@dmu.ac.uk

W: www.ev2.co.uk/vear

 

Personal profile

For more than two decades Professor Craig Vear has established himself as an internationally recognised composer of experimental music with technology, and recently as a scholar of digital performance and music. He is currently running two research projects: The Living Score which investigates the changes in musicianship and creativity afforded by digital technology and its transformation of "the score". This ranges from images of paper-scores shown on iPad's through to robotics and A.I. embedded in software generating scores. And Embodied Intelligence in Music https://eim-live.our.dmu.ac.uk that investigates the meeting point of embodied cognition, artificial intelligence, music composition and performance, game and software philosophy, and R&D for the entertainment industry.

His research is practice-Based and operates on a dual thematic axis of 1) digital creativity in music performance, and 2) innovation in the use of digital music in performance. Peer reviews of his contribution to this field have commented on how his research is ‘a major point of reference in computer music interactivity, live composition and improvisation’; ‘enhance practice by creators and researchers in interactive composition’ … ‘particularly in the case of ensembles involving human and computer performers’; ‘will enhance thinking and practice by creators and researchers’.

Vear has performed his monograph compositions widely throughout the world. His entire collection of software scores (2008-16) are published through Composers Edition (CE) a music publishing company specializing in living composers of international significance. International organizations have commissioned his monograph compositions as exemplars of innovation. 2003 Stretch music and sound installation, commissioned by Chicago Humanities Festival (the largest annual festival for arts and humanities, since 1990 has become the largest organization of its kind in the world). 2005 Falklands Project large-scale composition for musicians and digital technology, commissioned by Falkland Islands Government. 2009 Superfield Mumbai electroacoustic composition, commissioned by Mumbai Festival, India (largest 10-day festival of International Culture and art in Maharashtra). 2012 Like a Fish out of Water soundtrack for iPad app performance, commissioned by 2012 Cultural Olympiad/ English National Ballet. 2012 Poetry Parnassus solo sound installation, by 2012 Cultural Olympiad /South Bank Centre (SBC est. 1.5 million audience). 2012 Three Last Letters large-scale composition for 9 musicians, commissioned by Vale of Glamorgan International Festival (festival of contemporary music since 1969, known for its engagement with significant international living composers). 2011 A Sentimental Journey a Digital Opera commissioned by Arts Council England, Laurence Sterne Trust and published by Composers Edition, was cited in the Cambridge Companion to Opera Studies (Till, N ed. 2014) as an exemplar of how ‘the future may involve very different concepts of the performance space of opera, and of what constitutes an operatic audience or an operatic event’.

He has published his scholarly texts exclusively in leading international peer-reviewed journals such as Digital Creativity and International Journal of Performance Art and Digital Media. He is a member of the editorial board for the International Journal of Performance and Digital Media, and guest reviewer for International Journal of Creative Computing; Research in Drama Education; PeerJ and Organised Sound. In 2012 he was guest editor of a special Digital Opera edition of IJPADM. From 2016 he is a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.

He has a successful funding portfolio in excess of £400k. In 2014 he was awarded £105,000 as PI on a Digital R&D for the Arts research project that developed an innovative mixed reality system that enabled children and young people to engage in creative digital play for enhanced learning and communication skill development. The funding was granted through a consortium of AHRC, National Endowment for Science and the Arts, and Arts Council England

Research group affiliations

Publications and outputs 

  • Black Cats and Blues
    Black Cats and Blues Vear, Craig Black Cats and Blues (2014-18) is an extended composition by Craig Vear for improvising cellist and digital technology. It is inspired by Boris Vian’s collection of 10 short stories and creates a unique hybrid performance environment for each. All the electronics components (processing, score generation and visual imagery) that form the “score” are generated live or are controlled by interaction with the cellist Craig Hultgren. His response is entirely in-the-moment and improvised, although it is guided by the imaginary worlds from within each short story. https://divineartrecords.com/recording/black-cats-blues/ Black Cats and Blues (2014-18) is an extended composition by Craig Vear for improvising cellist and digital technology. It is inspired by Boris Vian’s collection of 10 short stories and creates a unique hybrid performance environment for each. All the electronics components (processing, score generation and visual imagery) that form the “score” are generated live or are controlled by interaction with the cellist Craig Hultgren. His response is entirely in-the-moment and improvised, although it is guided by the imaginary worlds from within each short story.
  • Black Cats and Blues CD liner notes
    Black Cats and Blues CD liner notes Vear, Craig Composed by Craig Vear, professor of digital performance and music at De Montfort University in Leicester, England, the work (to put it very simply) is an interaction between an electronically generated score and an improvising cellist. The initial digital score sends the compositional idea to the player, who can then explore defined boundaries and materials, and introduce rerecorded sound (and in live performance, video). Its various movements are based on the 1949 book Blues for a Black Cat and Other Stories by Boris Vian and aim to recreate in sound the imaginative realm created by the book, influenced also by jazz and the esoteric aesthetic of ’pataphysics. Composed by Craig Vear, professor of digital performance and music at De Montfort University in Leicester, England, the work (to put it very simply) is an interaction between an electronically generated score and an improvising cellist. The initial digital score sends the compositional idea to the player, who can then explore defined boundaries and materials, and introduce rerecorded sound (and in live performance, video). Its various movements are based on the 1949 book Blues for a Black Cat and Other Stories by Boris Vian and aim to recreate in sound the imaginative realm created by the book, influenced also by jazz and the esoteric aesthetic of ’pataphysics.
  • Gravities, trajectories and Postcards: the heard space in intermedial performance.
    Gravities, trajectories and Postcards: the heard space in intermedial performance. Vear, Craig As this is a short essay, I will get straight to the point. In doing so I expose that fact that I am audile , and believe that sound is a significant part of the audio-visual contract of live performance. Actually, I would argue it to be more foundational than that: ‘A head space in which the seen bathes’ (Chion 1994) . However, considering sound to be of such a foundational influential (the heard space) in intermedial performance ( … in which the seen bathes) presents significant challenges to those wishing to incorporate it in their work. This is particularly relevant to composers/ sound artists wishing to engage with intermedial performance, and intermedial performance-makers wishing to include sound-based media in their works. The challenge for both of these performance-makers is there is no sound-specific intermedia model with which to discuss and apply the affect and inter-effectivity of sound-media on experience within intermedial performance. This essay, therefore, introduces my conceptualisation of how we can get-to-grips with the affectual qualities of sounds within the audio-visual contract of a live performative experience.
  • Creative AI and Embodied Robots in Music – A Hybrid of Practice and Meaning
    Creative AI and Embodied Robots in Music – A Hybrid of Practice and Meaning Vear, Craig The aim of this paper is to is to discuss and demonstrate my current practice-based research into creative Ai and embodied robotics in music. But, as is often the case, when writing this paper I became more aware that I was not going to be able to deliver that which I had hoped to do in my abstract, but instead focus on something more aligned to this conference theme, and that is hybrid methodology. Don’t worry, there is still a performance of the robot in action, and I will still be taking you through my research. But what I want to draw out of that is the ‘ology’ bit, that is the study of a transformative method that has incorporated important elements of practice from robotics with elements of practice from music, and evaluate the worth of this hybrid process. Invited paper delivered at Hybrid Practices Conference, University of Malta, 13-15th March 2019
  • Black Cats and Blues (2014-18)
    Black Cats and Blues (2014-18) Vear, Craig Black Cats and Blues (2014-18) is a hyper-media concerto for cello and digital technologies. It consists of a series of interactive digital environments for a solo cellist to explore new approaches in performance. The research challenge was to reconsider the notion of a “concerto” through the digital score: first, the technical challenge for the musician to cooperate with the hyper-media elements of the technology; second, how the performer embraces the ‘pataphysical nature of the original stories and their translation into digital music; and third, how the performer embodies the digitally mediated worlds set-up by each of the movements. The technology has three roles: 1. to provide natural and fluid interactions between the human performer and the processed soundworlds supporting the musicians' skills to excel in the concerto; 2. to extend the sonic and creative possibilities of the performer, in a sense re-inventing the 'cellist and their musicality; 3. for the technology to become an autonomous other whose presence works in polyphony in the flow on an equal level. The premiere was commissioned in 2018 by HEARding Cats Collective of St Louis, in collaboration with the ‘cellist Craig Hutgren, followed by a recording of the work in August 2018 (currently in discussion with Leo Records). The experience felt by Hultgren was described as ‘my relationship with the digital elements was like an improvisation with another person’ insofar that the digital technology cooperated with him in the here-and-now of musicking.
  • The Feather Quartet
    The Feather Quartet Vear, Craig The Feather Quartet is a digital score for an improvising quartet. It is inspired by an extract from a Tove Jansson short story The Scolder from her book The Summer Book. In this extract an elderly grandmother is lying down on a quiet beach looking at a tiny piece of down caught in barbs of a plant leaf. She describes in great detail this feather and how it moves with the slight breeze. Her description evokes a sense of beauty in this minute event and draws attention to the profundity of concentrating on such small details. This profound seeking is at the heart of this piece; the musicians are instructed to seek such detail in the score, and the audience are invited into a careful listening experience that acts as a metaphor for the feather caught momentarily in the plant leaf on a deserted beach.
  • On Junitaki Falls
    On Junitaki Falls Vear, Craig On Junitaki Falls is a composition for live instrument and two artificial intelligent performers controlled by a central computer system that also operates as the score. Although Junitaki Falls exists as a geological feature in Japan, the reference to it as the title of this piece is inspired by Haruki Murakami's book 'A Wild Sheep Chase'. In this book a smaller story exists within the larger novel, with its presence felt throughout the book. In the piece, a smaller song exists within the larger composition, and like the novel it alters the whole music through its constant presence, even if we never hear it as itself. This smaller song exists as fragments of manuscript from Roger Jannotta's transcription of Eric Dolphy's bass clarinet solo of God Bless the Child composed by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog, Jr. in 1939. Already this is the start of a complex matryoshka ('Russian') doll of layered interpretation. Add to this the process each individual performer of this work must complete in order to grow their score: months of feeding the AI system with progressively abstract layers of interpretation. The end result is much like the cascading mini falls that make up the whole of Junitaki's geological feature. https://composersedition.com/craig-vear-on-junitaki-falls
  • The Feather
    The Feather Vear, Craig The Feather is a digital score for an improvising quartet. It is inspired by an extract from a Tove Jansson short story The Scolder from her book The Summer Book. In this extract an elderly grandmother is lying down on a quiet beach looking at a tiny piece of down caught in barbs of a plant leaf. She describes in great detail this feather and how it moves with the slight breeze. Her description evokes a sense of beauty in this minute event and draws attention to the profundity of concentrating on such small details. This profound seeking is at the heart of this piece; the musicians are instructed to seek such detail in the score, and the audience are invited into a careful listening experience that acts as a metaphor for the feather caught momentarily in the plant leaf on a deserted beach.
  • On Junitaki Falls - A.I. installation
    On Junitaki Falls - A.I. installation Vear, Craig On Junitaki Falls, is a composition for live instrument and two artificial intelligent performers controlled by a central computer system which also operates as the score. Although Junitaki Falls exists as a geological feature in Japan, the reference to it as the title of this piece is inspired by Haruki Murakami's book 'A Wild Sheep Chase'. In this book a smaller story exists within the larger novel, with its presence felt throughout the book. In the piece, a smaller song exists within the larger composition, and like the novel it alters the whole music through its constant presence, even if we never hear it as itself. This smaller song exists as fragments of manuscript from Roger Jannotta’s transcription of Eric Dolphy’s bass clarinet solo of God Bless the Child composed by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog, Jr. in 1939. Already this is the start of a complex matryoshka doll of layered interpretation. Add to this the process each individual performer of this work must complete in order to grow their score: months of feeding the AI system with progressively abstract layers of interpretation. The end result is much like the cascading mini falls that make up the whole of Junitaki’s geological feature. This is an A.I. version of the composition installed in an exhibition CREATIVE CONNECTIONS: EAST MEETS WEST AN EXHIBITION OF DIGITAL WORK BY ARTISTS FROM DMU AND GDUT 23RD APRIL 2018 - 1ST JUNE 2018 729 Art Cafe School of Art and Design Dongfeng Road Campus Guangdong University of Technology CHINA
  • The Feather Quartet
    The Feather Quartet Vear, Craig The Feather Quartet is a digital score for an improvising quartet. It is inspired by an extract from a Tove Jansson short story The Scolder from her book The Summer Book. In this extract an elderly grandmother is lying down on a quiet beach looking at a tiny piece of down caught in barbs of a plant leaf. She describes in great detail this feather and how it moves with the slight breeze. Her description evokes a sense of beauty in this minute event and draws attention to the profundity of concentrating on such small details. This profound seeking is at the heart of this piece; the musicians are instructed to seek such detail in the score, and the audience are invited into a careful listening experience that acts as a metaphor for the feather caught momentarily in the plant leaf on a deserted beach. Premiere performance of The Feather Quartet by the Ligeti Quartet

Click here to view a full listing of Craig Vear's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

Intermedia composition, digital opera, sound theatre, experimental composition, interdisciplinary music.

Areas of teaching

Intermediality, digital performance, human-computer interaction, AI and performance

Qualifications

1992 BA (Hons) Performing Arts (Music) – De Montfort University (nee Leicester Polytechnic)

2006 PGCE – University of Huddersfield

2011 Ph. D. – composition portfolio – University of Salford

Courses taught

  • Performing Arts BA (Hons) 

Honours and awards

2011    Winner OLIVIER Award Best Entertainment (as core design team for Railway Children)

2011    Nomination OLIVIER Award Best Sound Design

2011    Nomination Canadian DORA Award for Best sound design and composition (with Christopher Madin)

2009    Finalist VII CONFLUENCIAS – electroacoustic competition 2009

2008    Longlist: PRSF New Music Award 2008

2007    Leverhulme Artist in Residence – Centre for Environmental and Marine Sciences (University of Hull) 

Membership of external committees

Member of AHRC Peer Review College

Membership of professional associations and societies

PRS/MCPS; Jan 2002, Full membership

 

Forthcoming events

2012 Three Last Letters (composition for live sextet, voices and diffused soundscape)
Commissioned by Vale of Glamorgan Festival
Premiere: Barry Arts Depot (7th May 2012)
Duration: 35’

2012 Like A Fish Out of Water
Commissioned by English National Ballet, Cultural Olympiad 2012, in association with Seven Sisters Group
Premiere: Brockwell Lido, July 23rd 2012
Duration: 35’

Conference attendance

Symposium co-organiser (with Dr Áine Sheil Department of Music, University of York) Digital Opera: New Means and New Meanings <http://www.york.ac.uk/music/conferences/digital-opera/> 9-10 May 2011, University of York Music Research Centre

‘Exploring a Theatre of Sounds and Memory’ + performance of Superfield [Mumbai] TaPRA, University of Plymouth, 8 September 2009

‘Superfield [Mumbai] - the see-hearing dimension of sound art’ I Hear Too (Improving Heritage Experience through Acoustic Reality and Audio Research) conference at the British Library http://iheartoo.blogspot.com/ 18 May 2009

‘The acoustic DNA of Mumbai and Antarctica’ Theatre Noise conference, Central School of Speech and Drama, 25 April 2009

‘Staging Sounds: The Intersection of Music and Theatre’ RMA research Students Conference, Kings College, London, 9 January 2009

Popular Music Research Centre Colloquium, University of Salford, 30 October 2008

Externally funded research grants information

2012 Three Last Letters commission PI

2012 A Sentimental Journey premiere PI (including York Theatre Royal funding  

2011 Found Voices Tipping Point Commission, R&D (PI with Joe Duddell)  

2011 Found Voices BBC Philharmonic commitment (PI with Joe Duddell)  

2010 A Sentimental Journey R&D – ACE Grants for the Arts:  

2009 Superfield [Mumbai] commission, Bradford City Council:  

2008 Research Bursary University of Salford:

Case studies

2010-12 The Railway Children (as core production member: Sound Designer/ multi speaker diffusion)

  • Simultaneous performances London (2010, 11), Toronto (2011)
  • Audience numbers IRO 500,000
  • Olivier award for Best Entertainment 2011 LINK
  • Olivier nomination for Best Sound Design 2011 LINK
  • Canadian DORA Award nomination for best sound design/ composition 2011 LINK

Publication on CD

2012 Esk (Album). Craig Vear 3Leaves. Reviews at http://3leaves-label.com/releases.html

2011 Antarctica (Album). Craig Vear, Gruenrekorder Digital Download. Reviews at http://www.gruenrekorder.de/?page_id=4733 

2010 Summer Houses. (Album). Craig Vear, Mille Plateuax MPCLU01. Reviews at  http://tinyurl.com/7yv4peq  Total sales IRO 600

2010 Aud Raplh Roas’le (Album). Craig Vear, Gruenrekorder. Reviews at http://www.gruenrekorder.de/?page_id=2693  Limited Edition Sold Out

Additionally, from 2010 Earth Ear are the distributor for Antarctica DVD/Book/CD in North America and Asia http://earthear.com/antarctica.html , and from 2012 Gruenrekorder will distribute to Europe and Africa. Total 

2012 Raghu Dixit unplugged in York - Producer of live album. Release spring 2012 estimated sales IRO 20,000+

2010 Big Meeting by David Lumsdaine (as mastering producer). Reviews at LINK sales IRO 700

Craig Vear

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