Musical Communication in the Twenty-First Century
Music is a powerful means of communication. It transcends barriers of language, time and space, generates infinite variations of expression and can produce profound emotional responses. In the twentieth century, however, the composer became an increasingly isolated figure and the quest for the avant-garde pushed many listeners away from contemporary music. This portfolio and the accompanying commentary examine how a composer working in the twenty-first century might reconcile creative originality with music’s primary aim - communication with a live audience. To this end, I have drawn on my experience as both composer and performer in the composition of six new works ranging from music for solo cello to music for symphony orchestra and choir. The first two pieces, ScordaturA and Thread of the Infinite, have performance issues at the centre of their composition. Prelude, Fugue and Postlude and Im Walde are considered mostly in terms of their reference to existing music, a strategy which can help audiences to understand the idiom of new music by associating it with something familiar. In my discussion of the final two pieces, Snaer and Viriditas, I focus on the use of modes.