Abby Wollston

Film: Anna Cady and Saira Ahmed
Text: This is the last of it – Matt West

Music: Abby Wollston

I felt the burning at the centre of the Fire film was enacted as a ritual. This gave me the idea using of the bells at the beginning of the film, signalling the start of an oft repeated act perhaps and capturing the energy of the initial flame that sets the whole process into motion . The bells at the end of the film mark the ending in a different way, chiming a toll following the beautiful, but rampant destructive power of the fire.

My decision to improvise continuous arpeggiation as the flames devour the dress was driven by a desire to use a flexible musical device that could allow me to be swept along by the momentum of the fire in the moment. However, this is cleverly structured and controlled  visually, so I wanted my music also to be held within a modal harmonic framework and not just to be wildly random notes. There is an interesting tension between control of the image by the filmmaker, and letting the fire run its course at its own pace that I wanted to try and inhabit musically.

I associated the charred dress with feelings of shame following the excitement and intoxication of the flames, and wanted the music to seem ‘burnt out’ and lifeless.

Abby Wollston worked principally as a freelance baroque and classical cellist performing, broadcasting and recording with groups including the King’s Consort, English National Opera and the prizewinning Private Music ensemble. During her training as  music therapist she began to explore improvisational music and quickly became known as a sensitive and skilled interpreter of experimental film. She has provided solo improvisations for film-makers such as Trisha MacCrae and Siobhan Wall, and most recently, ‘interventions’ into more historic movies as a member of the London-based multi-media ensemble ‘The Next Room’. This group is developing a new approach to the active, meaningful involvement of audience and have been invited to participate in the Barbican ‘PitLab’ project in 2014.

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