Rosemary Shapes Tickle - Cake in Unexpected Places

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This piece is the first of a planned series inspired by the Thomasson, a type of conceptual art described by Akasegawa Genpei, referring to a useless structure or feature of a building that, robbed of function over time, has become 'hyperart': more art than art itself. I focused on the interplay between Thomasson and viewer, and as such the Thomasson's re-contextualising, historicising function. I explored how environments help us to situate ourselves, and how tensions between imagined and real can give a richer understanding of our environment.

This quartet focuses on the Castella, a Thomasson describing a block-shaped extrusion from a wall. The Castella takes its name from a cake introduced to Japan by 16th Century Portuguese traders: I wanted to explore the odd etymological chain from Castella as Thomasson, cake, Portuguese region, and (architecture at both ends!) castle. To me, this chain mirrors the free-associative fantasy that might follow an encounter with a Thomasson, and the imagined but now absent architectural through-line implied by a defunct fan or blocked-up window.

I depicted these overlapping chains through Shepard tones and Risset rhythms: the piece decelerates without reaching a point of rest, while being pulled downwards in pitch in the short-term and rising across the piece's length. These trajectories pull each other apart, and the piece is interrupted by other settings of the primary material, representing further distractions, recursions, fantasies, borne from seeing a building and imagining.

Per the Castella's origins, I was inspired by 16th Century Portuguese music (particularly Capela Ultramarina's 2019 recording 'A cantar uma Cantiga'), most transparently in the piece's final section, which provides the bedrock for the rest of the piece. I was also drawn to the writings of Matsuo Bashō, whose travel journals raised questions for me concerning walking as artistic, epistemic and meditative practice, old buildings, and noticing absences.

Composer: Rosemary Shapes Tickle


I am an emerging composer and human from the United Kingdom with an interest in music about stories and journies. My current compositional inspirations include the sapphic tension between a river and a canal, architectural quirks, bootleg animation and clams.