University of Sussex
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Portfolio of musical composition: integration in music: controlling diverse methods of expression within the context of the globalisation of musical culture

posted on 2023-06-07, 15:40 authored by Benjamin Oliver
Musical culture is increasingly globalised and technology allows us to engage with an evermore diversified range of musical approaches, traditions and sound-worlds. How composers react to this diversity of musical approaches is an important theme in contemporary composition. My approach to composition within this globalised situation has been to focus on the notion of ‘integration’ and creating structurally consistent score-based frameworks. I have composed a portfolio of work that reflects the central focus of ‘integration’, concentrating on three inter-related research areas: 1. Exploring how one can integrate or frame improvisation and/or electronics into notated structural frameworks. 2. Exploring the use of technology to translate or integrate material generated through improvisation into notational practice. 3. Developing a coherent and individual technique and aesthetic that draws on structural influences from a range of musical idioms, but never resorts to cliché or pastiche. My exploration of integration in writing the compositions in this portfolio has been primarily technical. I am fundamentally interested in the ‘nuts and bolts’ of composition, how musical materials can fit together and interact. Therefore although the character and substance of the different materials I engage with is important, my foremost preoccupations when composing are the formal and technical aspects such as: structure and proportion; pitch and rhythmic organisation; orchestration technique; the use of extended notations; and compositional processes such as abstraction, permutation and rotation. As I outline in my commentary the composition in this portfolio reflects my aesthetic position that working with an eclectic range of musical materials and diverse methods of expression such as improvisation and electronics is not an end-in-itself. By integrating diverse musical influences I am not trying to create a pluralist synthesis of different semantic paradigms, but aim to find my own innovative, coherent and consistent compositional approach.


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