SKULLMARKS was performed by Common Objects in 2016 inside the cavernous Pitt Rivers Museum, home to a mysterious ethnographic collection of over half a million items. I chose these four objects to display to the musicians and the audience, setting a special focus and atmosphere for the music.
They are made of wood, bone and clay, evoking consideration of water, air, earth, spirit, ritual and utility.
The score orchestrated different combinations of the players, distributed inside the very large central space and the upper galleries. The Museum building itself should be thought of as a fifth object, intrinsically evocative and enabling rich sonic perspectives - from acoustic sounds in extreme resonance to hermetic electronics. John Butcher
I formed Common Objects in 2005 for a series of concerts at the LMC Festival. At first the group had a fluid membership, but in recent years the line up has settled to:
John Butcher /
Angharad Davies /
Lina Lapelyte /
Lee Patterson / Pat Thomas.
I have wanted to use objects as stimuli for improvisation ever since I began the group. During the last thirteen years, we have worked with semi-structured pieces, graphic notation and free improvisation, but this is the first time we have used objects as a score. I am also interested in the relationship an improviser has with the object that is their instrument as well as the preparations they use. Musicians form unique connections with their instruments and often end up anthropomorphizing them. I get attached to my preparations for different reasons: some were given to me as gifts, some remind me of people I've played with. Over time, the instrument and objects, like our bodies, carry scars and knocks and different memories.
In 2016, the group made a mini tour called Sonorous Matter, co-produced with Sound and Music with a grant from the Arts Council England and sponsored by Resonance Extra. We each spent time engaging with the collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum, The Manchester Museum and The Oriental Museum, Durham University - all of which, of course, have their own relationship to Britain's colonial histories. We identified items to form the basis of new object scores to be performed by the group. This resulted in six new pieces, one by each group member: Lee Patterson - Five Objects, Angharad Davies - Sounds Outwith Objects, Rhodri Davies - JADE, Lina Lapelyte - Gold & Mirrors, Pat Thomas - FOR GEORGE SALIBA and John Butcher - Skullmarks.