The S.O.A.P. framework is one that has come from my creative practice. I identified four common features of my compositions: space, objects, agency, and place and endeavoured to find a way of developing my practice while staying true to my style. I found the framework to be most useful in planning new compositions and I feel that the later pieces in my portfolio demonstrate more creativity in the way they are performed than my earlier compositions.
Having Lines (2017-18) and Sounds of the Silent City (2017) as a starting point, I used their diagrams to develop new work. In Bearing Zero (2018) I explored similar themes to Lines but through the medium of live coding and I found that utilising a live performer better addressed the theme of agency. In(Habit) Space (2019) showed that using a different medium and having a different focus did not necessarily lead to a different diagram. This demonstrates the usefulness in supporting the S.O.A.P. diagrams with explanatory text. It also suggests that in order to design a varied programme of music, more needs to be thought about than just how the piece is presented. Similar diagrams suggest that the audience’s experience of each work might be similar, as well. 57N (2018) was a trial to see if I could design a piece around a pre-constructed diagram. In my opinion, this is the most interesting way to use the system. However, It can be impractical if the composer already has strict restrictions in places such as medium or theme. Abstractions (2019) was an attempt to see just how much I could deduct from the parameters of S.O.A.P. whilst still creating something interesting. This showed that objects and space in the performance environment are always present.
The system proved to be particularly beneficial to me as my creative practice spans multiple media. I have learned through this that I gain the most enjoyment from experimenting with different performance formats as this can strengthen a theme or idea if done appropriately.
The S.O.A.P. framework could prove to be a useful tool for others as I feel that many compositions use the parameters of space, objects, agency, and place. Additionally, S.O.A.P. accounts for variations in artistic practice and media, making it relevant to a broader range of sonic arts practitioners. The system could also be adapted to suit the individual composer, adding or subtracting elements where they feel necessary. The framework leads us to explore other means of presenting our work, honing in on or trying to move away from certain elements in order to create something new. Unlike many compositional frameworks, S.O.A.P. does not focus on each individual sound, rather it focuses on the bigger picture. Creating the diagram first may suggest interesting and unusual restrictions to the composer while still allowing them broad creative freedom over the types of sound that they use. I welcome any composers who may like to try my framework for themselves. I have personally found that this system challenges my creativity and spurs me to experiment with new formats and ideas and is something I will continue to use as my artistic practice expands.