chapter  12
20 Pages

A musical portmanteau: Rock viscerality, juxtaposition and modernist textures in Frumious

ByHOLLY HARRISON

Inspired by the nonsense literature of Lewis Carroll, my orchestral work Frumious (2012) reimagines the portmanteau word as a musical portmanteau, a concept referring to the coexistence of musical oppositions through the reorganisation of structure.1 A portmanteau word is a fusion of two distinct words, where two meanings are packed up as one; it maintains the original meanings, whilst creating a new meaning. Musically, my aesthetic is energised by the stylistic collisions occurring in the music of John Zorn, Michael Torke, Charles Ives, Igor Stravinsky and Louis Andriessen. Each of these composers challenges the dichotomous dynamic between art and popular worlds, producing music that I consider to be musical equivalents of Carroll’s portmanteaus. Like nonsense, my aesthetic aims to flatten, invert and manipulate stylistic hierarchies via juxtapositional sound-blocks to question the idea of hierarchy itself. Embracing the portmanteau as a metaphor for the convergence of musical oppositions, my music reorganises hierarchies through nonsense juxtapositions to form a new kind of ‘sense’: the logic of nonsense. By doing so, my compositional voice works towards a combative, energised soundworld with an architectural design of rhythmic vitality and visceral sonorities.