Having been in hospital for an operation yesterday, and having rest forced upon me today, I’ve finally found the time and opportunity to start my blog about my decision to abandon my traditional compositional style and to find a new “cutting edge” voice (hopefully).
I’m starting this blog as a way of documenting my search for a new compositional voice. Maybe it will be read by others – and maybe it wont – but I will always attempt to write with the same informality and with the same honesty which I would use to write a personal diary (which, if nobody reads it, is what it will end up being anyway). At the very least it will become a personal record of my progress to look back on in years to come.
When I started composing music at about the age of 12 I sought to learn as much as I could about the rules of harmony, reading copious books on the subject including “How to Compose Music”, in the “How To” series. Does anyone else remember that book? I also read R.O. Morris’s book on musical form (a one-time teacher of Sir Michael Tippett), Gordon Jacob’s book on orchestration (still on loan to me from my own music teacher – I’ve now had it in my possession for 25 years!) and eventually Walter Piston’s book on Counterpoint, which I have to honest and say that I only ever dipped in and out of as required. I quickly wrote a number of symphonies, sonatas, string quartets – and all manner of other chamber works. What was extraordinary was that at that time, the mid-eighties, it seemed possible to actually get what one composed performed. Most of my chamber works were performed in public. Even my orchestral works were at least “rehearsed”, if not performed. That was before changes in the UK GCSE Music curriculum made every student a “composer”. When I was at school someone who composed music was a little bit unusual. Now, with the insistence on making all students compose music, as well as the availability of music software such as Sibelius, Cubase, Logic, Garage Band etc etc, everyone is a composer! Just as before, almost everybody one met was writing a novel or trying to be the next Monet – so it now is with music. Everyone is a composer, it seems. Now – this might sound like sour grapes on my part, but I can also see it is everyone’s right to have a go and that people can gain quite a lot from the exercise of writing music – but the sheer number of people attempting to compose and to promote themselves now has made it more difficult than ever to get one’s voice heard above the din – especially if your musical voice is in any way “magnolia” or traditional, as mine has been to date. The music I’ve written to date has certainly been beautiful (if I can say that of my own work – though many other people have echoed that), and it is certainly accomplished, technically speaking, and I’ve had some moderate success – my name being known in some circles. But now, some years later, the time has come to be bold and branch out and create a totally new compositional style and voice for myself – informed but not encumbered by my formal training of the past. Also, my music to date being “tonal”, lyrical and Romantic in the extreme, I’m looking for something totally different now.
In this blog I will try to document my thoughts, strategies and outcomes as I progress. Anyone reading is very welcome to comment at any time on anything I’ve said.