Zoë Keating is an interesting and original composer and performer. She plays the cello but her playing is supplemented and complemented by pre-recorded cello parts that she has composed and performed. The blending of these different parts is done so skilfully that often, when simply listening to a live recording of her music, it is difficult to tell which part is being played live and which is pre-recorded.
This combination of live and recorded parts certainly gives her music a unique sound as well as an enhanced sense of space and stature – the whole is very much greater than the sum of its parts.
Possible is a short piece released in 2018 running to five and a half minutes. There are studio and live recordings available on YouTube – both are excellent but I prefer the live version as it has a greater intensity, as you would expect.
The piece has elements of rock (Keating used to play in rock bands) as well as minimalism but it also has a ‘classical’ feel with its expressive melodies. There is no conflict between these different genres as they fit together very smoothly – a testament to Keating’s skill as a composer.
The piece begins with a quiet, plaintive melody which soon moves to a repeated riff or ostinato over which a few short notes are punctuated before a new melody appears in a lower register which then begins to rise, accompanied by a new ostinato. There follows a short pause whilst Keating taps the back of her cello a few times – a clever touch adding to the variety of sounds – before the melody continues to build. A slower, quieter passage is then played leading to a quickening of the pace before the piece slows down again, ending quietly and suddenly.
Overall I think it’s an engaging piece full of contrasts, strong melodies and a sense of mystery. You can find more of Keating’s music on her website as well as on the usual music platforms. She also advocates for the rights of composers and musicians which is always good to see.