The Concept of the Meta-Instrument and its Implementation in Pre-Composition

Zaldua, Alistair. 2015. The Concept of the Meta-Instrument and its Implementation in Pre-Composition. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This portfolio explores and defines the concept of the meta instrument as a set of conceptual tools for pre-composition. Here pre-composition is examined and regarded as a complex set of activities; the instrumental metaphor serves to illuminate the kinship composition has with building and exploring a conceptual network of ideas and concerns which are then ‘played’. The meta instrument is therefore not seen as a direct sonic model with which to compose but as the result of a critical engagement with three distinct areas of activity before composition takes place. These are identified as: translation, Actor-Network Theory (ANT), and notation. The part of this research concerned with translation
examines how ideas derived from linguistics, semiotics, and philosophy can be applied to practice-led research in a creative discipline. Concepts derived from ANT, such as relational materiality and network building, provide a means of examining how the results of translation perform when placed in a network of relationships. Notation, as a part of composition,is then seen here not only as the ‘front-end’ of these activities of translation and ANT but also as a means of exploring the potentialities and limits of the metainstrument.

Each of the works that make up the portfolio is therefore seen as a part of a continuous development of the meta-instrument, and is described within my methodology as a distinct ‘research iteration’.

This portfolio consists of two main sections: a theoretical part followed by commentaries on the compositions that make up my portfolio. The scores themselves have been included in this portfolio and have been placed after the main thesis in the order of their appearance. Each commentary is seen as an attempt to retrace the processes during precomposition and examine the consequences these thought processes had. Therefore this
portfolio represents a documentation of how this approach to pre-composition was formed, outlines ways in which this approach can progress, and also reveals how I have approached the process of composition as research.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


composition, meta-instrument

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



30 June 2015

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

24 Jul 2015 11:00

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:11


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