The process towards the music is often a long and complicated one. First, I find a place that inspires me to relate and respond to it. Once there, I begin to notate what I see and hear, often in the form of ‘straight drawings’, but also with some musical notations arising from the natural sounds in that habitat. Secondly, I take these drawings and musical fragments back into my studio, where a more elaborate form of drawing takes place. These drawings try to capture the form and dynamics of that place, and this includes not only figurative but also abstract visualisations of the environment.
Thirdly, these drawings are placed alongside my manuscript paper, and the real process of musical composition begins. The visualisations are now ‘maps’ and primers for sonic invention. Fourthly, the music is now ready to edit and transfer from my hand-written score into a computer-realised score, which will include parts for the players. The finished work is published and the fifth stage begins - that is, rehearsal and performance.
The following sequence of slides (accompanied by the music itself), traces these five stages. I’ve chosen the Cancleave Movement from INhabitAT for 18 strings, keyboards, harp, percussion and 24 solo voices as a model to illustrate this process.