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Tullis Rennie Muscle Memory
Arts & Culture Series: Announcements

Composer releases sound work based on living room recordings

Dr Tullis Rennie draws from his research into composition methods that focus on memory and identity


A musician from City, University of London has composed new sound works based on recordings of him and his collaborators sat in their living rooms.

Dr Tullis Rennie, of the Department of Music, describes Muscle Memory as “part autobiographical docu-music, part jazz-inspired dreamscape”.

The record features two pieces, each of them beginning on the sofa in the house of a collaborator.

Both works feature musical conversations that merge with electronic compositions, creating sounds that encourage the listener to be a collaborator.

Dr Rennie, a Lecturer in Music, said: “The new record begins in living rooms – listening to and talking about music with the collaborators – because this was the origin of our friendships.

“My research in (auto)ethnographic methods for composition has revealed a focus on how many memories can be held within a single moment on one track from one record, and how much influence that can have on one’s own musical identity.”

Dr Rennie joins one collaborator Matthew Bourne in his idyllic Yorkshire hilltop live-in studio and his second collaborator Graham South in his Manchester red-brick front room.

As described in The Wire magazine, the record is available as a limited numbered vinyl-only release from November 2017, celebrated with a pre-release listening tour of intimate and domestic spaces.

“It made sense to present the final pieces in their natural habitats – thus the tour of living rooms,” said the City composer, who is an improvising trombonist, electronic musician and field recordist.

“Manchester was particularly special, as we presented the record at Graham’s house, in the space where the whole project began.

“What’s exciting to me about Muscle Memory is how positive the audience feedback from the living room listening sessions has been and also, compositionally, how many new avenues it has opened up for future works.”

Dr Rennie drew in particular from his research into compositional methods which approach a distribution of authorship – including his Walls On Walls projects with community groups and published articles on self-narrative in field recording.

Find out more about Muscle Memory

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