Tracery is an ongoing and modular collaboration between composer Cassandra Miller and soprano Juliet Fraser. Resolutely process-led, sessions have explored a form of 'automatic singing' in which Juliet attempts a body scan meditation whilst simultaneously listening and responding to, vocally, a piece of source material. Source materials have primarily come from non-notated traditions and were chosen to reveal different immediacies in Juliet's voice: the first modules take as their starting point two Hardanger fiddle tunes, a movement from Ben Johnston's eighth string quartet and a song by the British all-female punk rock band The Slits. attending to a task (2018) may mark a new direction: this module features Juliet and Cassandra, both engaged in a Deep Listening exercise, the source material for which is a conversation between Robert Ashley and Pauline Oliveros. The project is producing several discrete but related pieces that set out to experiment with a performer's freedom and vulnerability on stage, rejecting traditional ideas of performativity and 'singerly-ness'.
At the heart of each Tracery module is a process wherein Juliet performs a body scan meditation while responding vocally (whether tracing, weaving through, countering or simply breathing along) to what she hears in her headphones. Over an afternoon, this process is repeated many times: Juliet’s singing is recorded, layered in a canon, and returned to her for another session of meditating and singing. The repetition of this process allows for an amplification of the relationship between her physical impulses and the music being created. This method necessitates a great deal of discussion and writing about our experiences as performer and as listener, and as a result, the flexible method adapts itself to each unique day.
To date, the modules are:
Tracery : Hardanger (2017; 16'30)
Tracery : Lazy, Rocking (2017; 8'00)
Tracery : The Slits (2017; 11'00)
Tracery : attending to a task (2018; 14'00)
Tracery : T.Rex (2020; 9'00)
The first three modules of Tracery were commissioned with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, with development time supported by an Open Space residency at Snape Maltings.
Watch Tracery : Lazy, Rocking
photo ©Massimo Golfieri, for AngelicA Festival
7 February 2017: Kammer Klang, Cafe Oto, London
9 February 2017: St Paul's Hall, Huddersfield
28 April 2017: Outer Ear series at Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago
16 June 2017: The Exchange, Penzance
27 & 28 June 2017: The Chapel, Oxford House in Bethnal Green
21 September 2017: Klangspuren Schwaz, Austria
17 April 2018: Bastard Assignments, Peckham Asylum, London
9 May 2019: AngelicA Festival, Bologna
11 August 2020: video performance for TIME:SPANS, New York City
28 September 2020: Festival für Immaterielle Kunst, Hamburg
9 November 2020: November Music, 's-Hertogenbosch
25 March 2023: MaerzMusik Festival, Berlin
21 June 2023: Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Maltings, Suffolk
Tracery : Hardanger and Lazy, Rocking are included in a portrait disc of Cassandra's music, 'Songs about Singing' released in October 2019 on all that dust.