Michael Cryne

Extra-musical content and the compositional process
14th November @ 6.00pm

Extra-musical concepts, ideas, shapes or sounds immediately suggest themselves to me as music, almost pre-rationally, at some fundamental and intuitive level. I assert that music is, and can be, an art full of content about and of the world, and while it needn’t limit itself to simple representation, there is a relationship between the world and musical content. This relationship is imprecise, impenetrable and obscure, but, aside from the strictest of formalists permitted, at least to some degree, by most philosophers of music.

That this relationship can and does exist is of the utmost importance to my compositional process. I will discuss how my work moves beyond programme music, using my work Hearing Voices as an example, and arguing that the piece is not a purely representational work, rather, it is of the world, informed by and inhabiting an experience, its essence is of ‘pure’ music. It is not programmatic in the sense of attempting to depict or represent an experience, and isn’t an attempt to draw the listener down some representational path, but instead is a pre-rational, elemental musical reaction to an experience, which then becomes music. In my compositions, the extra-musical element informs the process, rather than the listened experience.

Using examples from my own compositional work, I will discuss how extra-musical content informs and shapes my compositional choices and processes. From macro to micro level, shaping the very form, shape, structure and sound world of the music itself, to varying degrees in my recent compositions.

Brief Bio
Michael Cryne was born in 1981, and studied composition at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.  He is currently pursuing doctoral study under the supervision of Dr Mark Bowden at Royal Holloway, University of London. Recent compositional work includes Prism for String Quartet (winner of the Molinari composition prize 2012), Hearing Voicesfor Solo Cello and Electronics (runner-up in the Coventry Intime festival prize 2012),Exodus for Reed Quintet, Live electronics and Video, and Listen to the Singing Wind for Solo soprano saxophone. He has also worked extensively in the theatre as a composer and music director, most recently acting as musical supervisor for the RSC’s production of Much Ado about Nothing. He has written the music for over 20 plays, staged worldwide.    

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