Compositional Sketches Study Day

University of Surrey, UK.

Wednesday 11 March 2015 10.30 – 5.30

Ever since since Nottebohm’s writings on Beethoven, composers’ sketches have fascinated other composers, musicians, performers, and listeners. Sketch study has become a notable sub-branch of musicology, informing critical editions, analysis, history, and biography, whilst the investigation of creativity has become a burgeoning area of interdisciplinary academic endeavour. The appeal of sketches is particularly strong for the understanding of modernist music, whose processes are often difficult to unravel: sketches can offer a short-cut to defining the manipulation of pitch, rhythm, and other parameters as well as the construction of form. But there are dangers: the composer’s means of construction does not invariably translate into the listener’s experience.
This colloquium offers a snapshot of some of the issues surrounding sketch-study and the study of creativity. Two composers, Tom Armstrong (University of Surrey) and Robert Saxton (University of Oxford) explain their compositional processes through a commentary on their own sketches, while two musicologists, Chris Mark (University of Surrey) and Michael Taylor (Trinity College Dublin), assess what can be learnt from the sketches of two composers who have drawn heavily on constructivist techniques, Harrison Birtwistle and Roger Smalley. Dr Simon Desbruslais (University of Hull) will give a lunchtime recital including music for trumpet and electronics by Sebastian Forbes, Jonathan Harvey and Tom Armstrong.
This event is free (including refreshments and lunch) but places must be booked in advance by emailing the School of Arts Box Office at Booking opens on Friday 16 January.