Something to listen to - feel free to comment

Hi all,

I have a couple of bits here for you all to have a listen to. The majority of my work is written down but little is recorded, with the exception of pieces created on sibelius, but I hate midi sibelius sounds, and music for film, scored on logic but the files are too large for upload to here. I like to blur the lines of composer, performer and listener but these are the closest I have to something I have written and recorded.

Distorted Village is essentially musique concrete, written in 2011. With the exception of the aeolian flute sounds, everything is sounds made by manipulating household items, a banana hitting a frying pan, scraping whisks, you know...

The concept is that of a man coming into a village on his motorbike, crashing then looking round for help but finding no-one. All the while, he is being watched by something

E K is nearly 14 years old now... that is scary! I recorded it using a 16 channel analogue set-up of ADAT machine, patch bays etc. Not a computer in sight! All instruments were played and recorded by myself in one take each. Everything is improvised and had not written direction. The only set material was a wild recording i made on the off chance i the middle of York near a fountain where some children were mocking a guy who was telling everyone that we were all going to hell! That was recorded using a lapel mic and a mini disc player. It is possibly a little rough around the edges, but I still enjoy it after all this time.

Hope you enjoy, feel free to feed back

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  • Bob, I am very sure that you are very musically aware and agree that you shouldnt told to like something if you dont. I am simply pointing out as a general observation, aimed mostly at some of my comrades with whom this discussion comes up almost weekly, that you cannot dismiss something based upon hearsay and something that you have not been delved into further. For example, I am not that keen on the music of Brian Ferneyhough, I listened to a fair amount of his music, attended concerts aand pre concert talks, studied scores (which completely fried my brain i may add) but I came to the conclusion that it is not for me but appreciate what it is he does. I took his ideas of complexity and rearranged them to suit my own individual needs. I do not dislike any form of music based upon the fact that someone has usually taken the time to craft it. I also use techniques from some of these other genres/composers that I am not so keen on and slightly adapt them to suit my needs. It gives my works a new lease of life sometimes. That is why I think one should engage with everything, you just never know.


    Oh and dont worry, my wife also refers to me as much stronger versions of crabby old man. Usually when she comes across me listening to John Cage. John Cage seems to give her tourettes!

  • I'm glad to hear it! There are some out there who only look at Cage and 4'33" and write him off and do the its not music spiel... I am of the opinion that you should listen to everything! If you dont like it, at least you have tried to broaden your horizons. There is so much great music out there that goes unnoticed because it is not the norm. Cage's The Perilous Night is outstanding for me but I have met academics who appreciate Satie but will not give Cage a go, even though there are similarities between the two.

    Yes, I very much like Varese. I love Tuning Up and my first foray into his music was performing Ionisation.

  • Thanks Michael for the great feedback.

    Sorry Village didn't do anything for you. Im glad you get an image of a deserted village from it though, that is the idea. Its play-on words, exchanging deserted for distorted due to the textural and timbral effects used. My job here is done, haha!

    I agree that some would say that this is not music. But I would say, as many have before me, is that traditional music is also mostly an organisation of sound. It is simply more acceptable because it uses traditional instruments with mostly defined pitch instead of organized and manipulated found sounds. Cage said "the material of music is sound and silence. Integrating these is composing." For me, Cage is one of the greatest composers/inventors in music history (I may be disowned for that comment I know!) but at the same time he is no Bach, Mozart or Beethoven, their music is incredible. I feel that BMB's and Cage's music should be held in the same regard for creativity and ingenuity (I may also be disowned for that too!).

  • I feel like I have been misunderstood a little.

    I am all for tonal music. I feel that the academy maybe teaches it more as gospel than that of finding and aiding your own style. I found if you do not fit the mold, think outside of the box, you are given average or worse grade for simply placing an interupted cadence instead of a perfect cadence so you can further develop an idea where you feel it is appropriate. The forms given from baroque to romantic all have their place, but it is not always for me.

    I think music whilst being universal is also very personal. I enjoy it when I hear my work interpreted different ways by different people. There is  a certain degree of improvisation with some of my pieces which can be just as engaging for the audience when they may not know what comes next. That may not be true of another composer or audience member who may dismiss the work as crap, but you can not please everyone all the time. Having played drums and percussion professionally since the age of 17, I get tired of playing the same old songs in the same way night after night for 4 months at a time. I enjoy personally variation and that is reflected in my work.

    As you say, whatever the outcome, it is still rewarding to do something you enjoy and is what keeps us going.

  • Hi Gav,

    Thanks for the feedback, it is appreciated.

    I agree to a certain extent regards the structure issue, in 'tonal' music there needs to be a build and release of tension to fit the mold. It is the mold however that I think stiffels music. Writing in a certain style, such as 'classical', is limiting as I find I am forever trying to copy or having to fit in with similar tendancies such as form (be it binary ternary, sonata, rondo) to Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms et al. There is much to be said being able to write well in this style. I trained in classical composition, enjoyed it and having an understanding of harmony, counterpoint and analysis is integral to every composer,  I do feel that to write in that strict way is a little stifeling for me however. Most of my work is done off the cuff and is completely in the moment. I do not enjoy spending hours, days or weeks fumbling over a single theme to never be satisfied, as is often the case. My last large scale work, a contemporary opera based upon the assassination of JFK, was graphic and text scores where i could explain my ideas more precisely without having to conform to tradition.. Most of the material in terms of notes, dynamics, duration, timbre etc is left to the discression of the performer based upon my instructions. I think that others engaging with the work in a practical way is, for me, more exciting than an audience sitting in silence listening to a well written symphony.

    Whilst I think there is a certain amount of experimental ideals and tendencies within my work (I adore Cage, Cardew, Wolff, La Monte Young etc), my explaination of my work, although not particularly these pieces, would be that of interactive improvisation and collaboration with hints of music from the last 500 years in there...I will try to upload some of my 'tonal' music and graphic scores for some appraisal, just so I do not get stuck with the experimental label.

    Many thanks again for your input Gav.

  • Paul, I thank you for posting. It's a tough thing to do - put your sounds out there in front of others, hopeful of good comments, and bracing yourself if the comments are less positive. It requires some bravery, and I appreciate that you have done it. When I comment on works posted by others, the first question I ask myself is: is the genre the composer is in one which I can appreciate, or is it one which does not touch my heart? In your music I hear lots of sound experimentation and I am glad when I hear that, because experimentation is the future, so I am glad when I hear new things. I myself am a traditional composer and write tonal music, although occasionally I like things which are wide departures from tonality (for example, I have commented positively on the works of Ondib Olmnilnlolm, a composer on this site who is about as wild as it gets). In the pieces that you posted I found I didn't have interest to listen to them in their entirety because I didn't hear an overall theme - they sounded to me like a collection of unrelated sounds. If there is a cohesive theme to your compositions, I missed it, sorry for that. I think that even with experimental works, there must be some cohesion - some feeling that a story begins, proceeds logically, and comes to a conclusion that makes sense. Best to you! -

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