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Material Affordance

For Mixed Choir / Musarc


Affordance II - 2024 in progress
Hidden Affordance
for mixed choir and (free) instru­ments

Material Affordance I — 2019 — is a piece for mixed choir with a focus on micro­scop­ic lis­ten­ing, act­ing and con­cen­tra­tion. But the use of the recorder by every choir-mem­ber and the mov­ing of the group as a group (using Pina Bausch- dancers and march­ing bands as an inspi­ra­tion) is what comes in mind after listening/​watching.

The piece starts with a very slow uni­son melody. It is sung while blow­ing half into the recorder with the pur­pose to moti­vate the flute pro­duc­ing high sounds which changes the colour of the melody and cre­ates an extra lay­er. The slow­ness of the melody in com­bi­na­tion with the flute sounds gives a tex­tur­al impres­sion which trans­forms and becomes a real tex­ture, using a lot of dif­fer­ent tech­niques with voice and recorder (explor­ing the mate­r­i­al affor­dances’ ). Background and fore­ground change continuously. 

The last part forms a big con­trast in tem­po, ener­gy and char­ac­ter. All sub­tle­ness is gone and the whole choir starts walking/​shuffling in a very strict tem­po. With a clear mission. 

Material Affordance was writ­ten for Musarc and has had it’s pre­mière 5 july 2019 in The Whitechapel Foundry in London, the place where the Big Benn and Liberty Bell were cast. Later tat year it was picked up to be per­formed at the London Contemporary Music festival. 

It’s a piece about the per­cep­tion of the func­tion of an object. About a hid­den util­i­ty, about chang­ing the nat­ur­al way to use things: stairs are to walk on, a cof­fee to drink, a book to read, a foundry to cast bells, a voice to sing and a recorder to blow on. 

In Material Affordance the recorder pro­duces sounds in alter­na­tive ways. Actively or in a more pas­sive way. Less nat­ur­al than we have learnt. The same with cer­tain voice tech­niques used.


  • Commission
    Musarc Choir
  • Composition
    Heleen Van Haegenborgh
  • Instrumentation
  • Premiere
    July 06, 2019 at the Whitechapel Foundry

Related Agenda

2024 20:30

Musarc Sings, première

Piece for mixed choir

Saint Paul's Bow, London

Related Press

Past Agenda

2019 20:00

Material Affordance

By An Assembly

London Contemporary Music Festival

2019 20:00

Material Affordance

By Musarc

Whitechapel Bell Foundry, London