Theoretical writings

A Changing Role for the Composer in Society

A study in the historical background and current methodologies of creative music-making.

(Peter Lang AG, European Academic Publishers, Bern 2005)

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All-Interval Fractal Sets – A technical description

Abstract:

This paper describes the process which led to my discovery of all-interval fractal sets. I show that there are 204 such forms each conforming to one of 10 modal scales. I analyse their characteristics, revealing a number of remarkable relationships and symmetries. I introduce a new concept of partial inversion pivoting around the interval of a tritone. The paper concludes by analysing the characteristics of a subgroup of 24 sets that exhibit a particularly interesting complimentary relationship with one another.

I attach a number of short appendices. Appendix 3 shows how the same principles of all-interval fractal sets can be applied to scales based on divisions of the octave by numbers other than 12. In appendix 4 I identify different ways of categorising some of the fractal sets as "introvert" or "extrovert".

Sea Chords - A technical description of their derivation and use

Abstract:

Anyone who has read the programme notes of any of my works since the early 90s will have come across frequent references to something called “sea chords” and perhaps wondered what on earth they are. The sea chords are so-called because they were invented for the sea interludes of my opera “Seven Stars”. In this paper I describe how they were devised and what rules and procedures I have been able to develop to govern their use in musical composition.

The Creation Project

The Creation Project is a planned collection of settings for choir and instrumental ensemble or orchestra of texts that trace the story of scientific and cosmological discoveries over the past 600 years selected from the visionary writings of men and women of science who contributed to the advance of knowledge and understanding.

The Creation Project was prompted by my growing sense of incongruity when taking part in performances of Haydn’s “Creation”. Much as I admire Haydn’s great oratorio from a musical point of view, I can no longer take seriously a work which celebrates the now discredited biblical version of the creation of the world in seven days by an all-knowing and all-powerful god.