I’ve known this for quite a while: the things that preoccupy me aren’t always in line with musical fashion. It seems to me we live in an era in which the materials of music, especially sounds, are distrusted by many younger composers, hence their preoccupation with spectacle. So here’s an alternative manifesto:
#1 Sounds are intrinsically beautiful
#2 Sound = space = time
#3 Silence is never silent
Three recent pieces follow these principles. untouch-touch gives the percussionist Serge Vuile a series of gestures to make, the first time to trigger sine-tones, the second time to strike six gongs. senza misura is a piano work for Philip Thomas in which the time is taken by groups of notes gradually sounded all over the keyboard – the music sounds both completely consistent and yet never the same. Flauto inverso grew out of Karin de Fleyt’s wish to ‘re-imagine the flute’; it uses the flute that Boehm so skilfully homogenised in the 19th century and gradually takes it back in time, then perhaps even out of time.
On my desk now is Les Doigts du Soleil, a solo for the French theorbiste, Caroline Delume, out of which I will compose music for a larger ensemble and Other times, other places, a work that assembles field recordings in the way that the makers of Stonehenge assembled stones, with live musicians too, playing composed and improvised music. Open Space in Snape Maltings will host some days of preparatory work on the piece in May 2018.
I am trying to do other things too, including gathering a collection of my writings about music for a book, and beginning work on music for piano with video (but not a spectacle).