This site is a field guide to my life as a composer, but also a guide to the many ways in which my works are shaped and made. It contains some of my drawings that form such an important part of my process and research, which in turn lead to performances and recordings. It is a series of sonic and visual portraits , a natural biography that illustrates my ongoing contact with nature. News and reviews completes this home guide!
All of my music is inspired by processes of study, learning, and experiencing. My research towards musical composition falls into two types. Those that are directly inspired by landscapes and wild-things are invariably started in the field. Sometimes drawing and making musical sketches isn’t enough, however. I may have to return to my studio and take time to study specific things by reading. I have a very large library on the natural world and science, though these are supported by an equally large number of books on the fine arts, literature and philosophy. If this collection doesn’t answer my questions, then I use the internet. Not until I have sufficient understanding of the things I have seen and heard can I begin serious compositional practice. Examples of works prepared in this way are INhabitAT, Gesangbuch; 24 Preludes for Piano.

Secondly , there are works that are inspired by theoretical things. In recent years, I have composed a number of large-scale works, which have been derived from scientific theories. Research for these has to be via the process of reading. In the case of Rutherford’s Lights, however, the readings in the theories of light and colour were insufficient to complete the acquisition of knowledge I needed. Collaboration with an expert in the field was essential - in that case, Sir Michael Berry; a world scientific authority on light. In both Rutherford’s Lights and the very recent Particle Partita for solo violin, mathematics was the prime symbolic tool with which to describe these theories, so some of my research had to take the form of mathematical practice!

Research for me is multifarious. It is always primed by a feeling that the music I want to make is inspired by a journey through the ‘known’ into the unknown. Once I have a general sense that a place or a scientific theory and practice is something I can respond-to, the design of a research practice is fairly easy. But always,acts of drawing and musical sketching remain the core activity of this research. Composing itself is, after all, and to me at least - research!

New Research Projects

Water more

The Colours of Dark more