Music composer Oleg Shpudeiko (Heinali) from Ukraine, discusses his latest work for Jean Abreu: A Thread.
Oleg writes and performs beautiful, emotive music under Heinali moniker — Electroacoustics, live piano improvisation, music for films, games, performances and exhibitions.
What attracted you to get involved with A Thread?
While some of my existing compositions have been featured in a few choreographic performances, I’ve never composed original music for a choreography before. But I always was interested — some works that were composed in the past were written with choreographic performances in mind. Plus, it was a great chance to work with wonderful musicians (Andrew Maginley and Benjamin Kaminski) which I don’t get very often as I specialize in electroacoustic music, don’t have a formal music education and usually spend most of my time working alone in my studio. Using studio as an instrument, as Brian Eno would have probably said. So when Jean offered a collaboration I couldn’t resist. Actually, while working on Bound, I was working in parallel on another exciting project which is quite related to choreography — Bound, a video game by Plastic / Sony Santa Monica. Princess, the game’s protagonist, moves and interacts with the world with dance. Her movements were captured from a professional dancer and feature if I’m not mistaken both contemporary dance and ballet. I think some of the ideas I had for Bound were influenced by the work I did on A Thread and vice versa.
What should the audience expect from the show?
In terms of music, it features both rather free interpretations of old music by Monteverdi, Dowland, anonymous author performed by Andrew (theorbo) and Benjamin (viola) and electroacoustic compositions recorded by me. Both original pieces of music were written specifically for A Thread and one old composition which Jean decided to have in the work. Actually, music’s structure was heavily influenced by Jean’s method of work, which is much closer to improvisation and the process itself feels like solving a difficult puzzle. Instead of composing for a fixed, rigid structure of a complete performance, I had to make lots of edits and rearrangements as we went through numerous changes both in the structure and fragments. It was quite challenging because, when you deal with a composed electroacoustic it’s very difficult to make changes to it, as it exists in the form of audio recordings, not scores (there are exceptions, of course).
What influences did you draw upon when preparing for A Thread?
It might sound strange, but Rothko’s works. In my solo work, I rely heavily on a looping and layering technique, which is similar to Rothko’s Color Field painting. I employed this technique to a certain extent in music for A Thread. Another influence is Renaissance and late Medieval pieces that were considered for the project. Fro example, some of the electroacoustic compositions started out as heavily processed versions of music by Dowland and Monteverdi.
Please can you describe how your music interacts with the dancers and set design?
A Thread’s set design feels both ‘minimal and’ ‘unsafe’ — the dancers interact with heavy and loud weights, there’s a lot of tension in the choreography. Instead of writing a clashing percussive score, I decided to incorporate the sounds produced by the dancers and accentuate the mood and dynamics for the particular fragment of the piece. As I mentioned before, the music wasn’t written to fit a complete, finished performance. Both choreography and music were in a flux until the very end. I believe, a lot of decisions Jean has made were influenced by music and a lot of decisions I made were influenced by Jean’s changes in choreography and structure while we worked together in London. I think it became so intertwined and interdependent that’s it’s difficult to separate certain aspects of it and tell how a specific part interacts.
Jean Abreu: A Thread takes place Fri 4 Nov 2016, RFH – book tickets here