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The Craft of Composition

There might be 'eternal verities' that apply to all composing, perhaps all art-making. Focus, proportion, identity, function, role and so on. On the other hand, there are exquisite felicities in every style and voice of composing and music-making that are to be learnt, cultured and cherished and remade within that special field.

As well as material aspects there is also the approach, the attitude, the way in which a composer ensures invention and authenticity. ("Begin very day as if you’ve never written before"). The Institute will reflect on the craft and psychology of composing in all its forms.

In the autumn a series a films will be made with senior practitioners, starting with the new Institute Fellows, Richard Barrett, Colin Matthews, Evan Parker and Howard Skempton, about the art of composing, starting with simple questions, 'how do you begin?', 'how do you extend and develop material?'.

he Institute of Composing is curating a two-year project exploring the relationship between words and music. The principal partners are Brunel University, Aldeburgh Music, Dartington International Summer School and Birmingham Conservatoire. 

Project details

The project will consist of four main parts

Part 1

The first session will be held at Dartington International Summer School between 18 and 25 August. 2012 The course leaders are the singer/songwriter Ray Davies and the poet and playwright Marion Wells.

Part 2

The next part will be at the Britten Pears School, Snape between 25 February and 2 March 2013. This will be led by the composer John Woolrich, the poet Lavinia Greenlaw, composer/pianist Huw Watkins and a singer.  This course will make a close examination of the ‘music’ of spoken language and move from there to develop vocal lines which clarify the meaning of a text rather than ornamenting it.

Part 3

The third part (again at the Britten Pears School) will be part of the Aldeburgh Festival in June 2013. Singers from the Britten Pears School vocal masterclasses will work on songs and other vocal works produced so far (in parts one and two at Dartington and Snape) with their composers. Course leaders are John Woolrich, the tenor Ian Bostridge and a writer.

Part 4

The songs will be repeated at Dartington in August 2013 in the fourth part of the project, this time led by the composer Dominic Muldowney and a writer.

The aim of the project is to generate new music for voice to be performed, recorded and published.