Conlon Nancarrow declared: “Time is the last frontier of music”. I am interested in further developing Nancarrow's numerous temporal experiments and the manipulation of time perception in contemporary performance practice as a composition technique. I am a composer, improviser, and percussionist, performing and conducting my work from behind the drum kit. My music is informed by an eclectic variety of influences, including collected tone rows (e.g. Alban Berg), harmolodic jazz (Marc Ribot, Jamaaladeen Tacuma), aleatoric comprovisation (John Zorn, John Cage), Krautrock (Malcolm Mooney, CAN) and Malian griot traditions (Abdoulaye Diabaté).
Anatomical Planes, is the latest edition to my chamber music series featuring the Ligeti Quartet which continues to explore concepts from A Gambler’s Hand (2012) and In the Ring (2014), a suite of pieces for amplified string quartet and drums, largely composed but with improvisational sections (third stream uniting jazz and classical forms and approaches), inspired equally by the great string quartet tradition (Beethoven and Bartok in particular).
Anatomical Planes is a future album release consisting of five suites which employ polytemporal concepts from Conlon Nancarrow's Studies for Player Piano: Study No. 5 (two repeating ostinatos at tempos of 5-against-7) Study No. 11 (an isorhythmic blues on a repeating sequence of 120 chords) and Study No. 20, (a pointillist duration canon of repeating notes within small ranges). Polytemporal music is composed using two or more different simultaneous tempos or speeds. Henry Cowell first envisioned polytemporal theories of divisive rhythm in his treatise New Musical Resources (1919), discovering a way to structure rhythmic duration in a similar way that had been achieved with harmony, that pitch intervals, and polyrhythms are manifestations of the same phenomenon, differentiated only by speed. This became the main inspiration for Conlon Nancarrow's 50 Studies for Player Piano (1948-92) which synthesized the two main conventions in which rhythm is composed (divisive or additive approaches).
"The drummer and composer Sean Noonan approaches postmodern jazz and world music from the same angle of self-discovery ... he manages to make his pieces speak coherently, and in a unified voice." - Nate Chinen, New York Times
"Menacingly surreal, often assaultive, a feast for fans of dark, challenging music…it’s a category unto itself – and one of the best albums of 2012 in any style of music. Scary Stuff from Sean Noonan." - Lucid Culture
About the Ligeti Quartet
Mandhira de Saram and Alicja Pilarczyk (violin 1)
Patrick Dawkins (violin 2)
Richard Jones (viola)
Val Welbanks (cello)
The Ligeti Quartet have been at the forefront of modern and contemporary music since their formation in 2010. They have established a reputation as one of the UK’s leading ensembles, breaking new ground through innovative programming and championing of today’s most exciting composers and artists.
Having played at landmark venues around the world including Carnegie Hall, Curtis Institute, Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, Barbican Hall, and Kings Place, they also regularly escape the stage to appear at museums, galleries, theatres, pubs, in an IMAX Theatre, on a fishing boat, in a cave, and on iceberg sculptures as part of a Greenpeace campaign. In autumn 2018 they took part in a critically acclaimed tour of UK planetariums, in association with Sound UK.
They have commissioned many new works and have collaborated with artists from all types of musical backgrounds including Anna Meredith, Stef Conner, Elliot Galvin, Kerry Andrew (Juice Vocal Ensemble), Laura Jurd, Meilyr Jones, Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy), Seb Rochford (Polar Bear), Shabaka Hutchings (Sons of Kemet), Shed 7 and Submotion Orchestra. They are currently working on a long-term project with Ernst von Siemens prize-winning composer Christian Mason to create a series of Songbooks for string quartet, based on overtone singing traditions from around the world.
The Quartet are passionate about supporting emerging composers and taking new music to diverse audiences. As Ensemble in Residence at Cambridge University, Sheffield University, and Goldsmiths, University of London, they regularly lead composition workshops, and undertake education and community outreach work. They took part in the Cheltenham Festival Composers’ Academy 2017, and became City Music Foundation Artists in 2016.