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I was born in the green and leafy outer-eastern suburbs of Melbourne in 1985, and spent my early years in the middle of alpine forest in north-east Victoria. Now I spend my time as a composer: a tinkerer with acoustic and electronic sound in the context of concert music, electronic music, installation, and performance. Whatever form my work takes, it is usually influenced by the natural world, science and mathematics, and self-imposed compositional limitations; I see music as a type of perception and manifestation of already-existent natural phenomena and relationships, in the same way that mathematics is a notation of natural relationships and so attempt to express the most elegant form of the observed relationships. Prior to studying composition I was a bass player who grew disgruntled with the culturally-defined stylistic limitations of the instrument, and, having worked primarily in jazz and popular musics, the adherence to traditional notions of pitch, rhythm, and form that result in severe aesthetic and creative limitations – not the desirable kind!
“Vincent Giles’ new piece, IMPULSE gave a new 21st century voice to field recordings, mostly gathered from his recent trip to Europe, flourishing and melding in a unsettled but vibrant electroacoustic language.”
— Ian Parsons, PBS FM 106.7
Of the sciences, I am most interested in physics and biology, both of which had a profound impact on my doctoral research into the philosophic application of memetic evolution by Darwinian natural selection to the transmission of intention from a composer to audience. In short: a deterministic model of creativity based on natural selection and the dispersion of those ideas in a population through music. In this and other contexts I have been described as a “materialist” and as “relentlessly reductionist”, and I quite like that. Indeed, I think that is what both the arts and the world needs more of in this era of so-called “fake news” and new-age, pseudo-scientific beliefs.
“What is clear is that Giles’ music is often intimately linked to the setting in which it is appreciated: there is an intentional blurring of the distinction between the content of the piece and the ambient noise of the space.”
– Jennifer Hauptman, Buzzcuts
Over the past five or so years, all of this has lead me to what I have taken to calling polyphony of form, meaning that in a piece, there are often multiple structural forms superimposed, counterpointed against one another and interacting in tumultuous ways. In many ways this reflects the often clashing, often claustrophobic, and nearly always busy world we live in, and the incredibly complex interactions of things like particles, planets, galaxies, atoms, people, chemicals, and so forth. These interactions – relationships – can be described using many forms; mathematics being common, but in my case: music and related works. This comes from the sciences and an attempt to understand the world through science (though I am no scientist), and a fascination with the elegance of good mathematics, but also from the counterpoint of Bach, integral serialism, and the French spectral tradition, and especially from the world of computer and electroacoustic music, where form and structure relate very strongly from the micro scale to the macro, and things like rhythm and pitch are free and can be manipulated at the level of the individual sample. This is exciting! The forms of the future should be liberated from the past completely, and the relationship between material and form more thoroughly explored.
“Vincent Giles’ Differing Dialogues is another adventure through the wilder sounds that the low flutes bring to the table … [He] paints an amazing landscape exploiting so many of the wondrous extended techniques offered by the instrumentation.”
– Shaun Barlow, flutetutor.com.au
I am one of the Artistic Directors for the Tilde New Music Festival, a biennial festival and academy that provides a platform for experimentation and collaboration in an informal, public setting. I am an Academic Lecturer at the Australian Institute of Music, am represented by the Australian Music Centre, my scores are published by Wirripang for whom I am also on the peer-review panel. I have studied with a bunch of people, but would prefer not to list them here. Outside music, I enjoy cooking and blogging about vegan food, drinking coffee and craft beer (not at the same time), pretending to garden, reading, and being a part-time recluse.