‘Having experimented with many different ideas for this project, I decided to present these two settings to show some of the contrasts in Morgans work, as well as my own. One Cigarette is intimate, playful and vulnerable, and I chose to use ambiguous, tentative chords and chord structures that hang, cascade, but almost never fully resolve, as though one is trying to inhale the final trail of smoke left hanging in the air. The voice was inspired by Morgans sing-song presentation of his own works, and also by one of my favourite singers, Bjork. I wanted to create a line that could almost pass as exuberant spoken word.
Archives was written earlier in Morgans life and explores the sound of words for their own sake, and how meaning can change through repetition. I enjoyed speaking this poem, and tried to translate the sound of my own voice onto the harp, as well as bringing in some extended techniques and sounds often not associated with this huge and versatile instrument.
Morgans freedom and lightness also inspired me to consider my presentation as a performer. As a harpist I have become increasingly interested in my role on stage and the version of myself that audience members take away. The stereotype of an angelic, graceful harpist is one that I have been pushing against throughout my career as a touring musician for the past 12 years. Through this project I have begun to explore subverting my appearance on stage, as well as considering how I present the many sides to my authentic self.
This project has invited me to start a long exploration into my musical identity, authenticity and artistic integrity into the future.’
Esther Swift, 2021