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2020 - Involuntary Composi 2020 - Involuntary Composition HOT

 

 
 

Where does the music come from?                      

Involuntary composition and writing by inspiration.

William Lloyd looks for precedents among composers who 'write what they have to write.'  

 

George Lloyd grew up with a passion for Italian opera, with immense admiration for Verdi's ability to translate intense emotions - love, hate, and grief - into marks on a page and which could then fill a theatre with popular music. He was taught by his father at an early age that there were two kinds of music composition: 'felt' music and 'concocted' music, and that the former was more likely to find public favour although it could not easily be written to order.  

 

Lloyd had no desire to emulate the imperial splendours of Elgar, or the arrangements of folk-music favoured by Vaughan-Williams, but he regarded the full-size symphony orchestra as one of the glories of Western civilisation.  He said "I was seduced by the high soprano voice, soaring over the orchestra'.' He was a talented and precocious violinist, with a love for the brilliant sound of the brass section and the deep rich tones of the tuba; he adored rich harmonies, dramatic shifts in dynamics and tempo, and subtle rubato, and he was unwilling to give up these characteristics of Romanticism for the sake of a fashion or academic diktat.  He studied serialism, aleatorics and other modernist forms of note manipulation, and rejected them because 'They perpetrated horrible noises and made composers forget how to sing.'

  

Although he rejected the prevailing intellectual orthodoxy, he was, in the words of Lewis Foreman 'a true naif - he was no fool.' Although he recognised that both the source and the effect of great melody was true emotion, it was clear that composition required an enormous intellectual effort, matched with a rigid discipline and a rigorous technical knowledge. He could acquire the discipline and the technique by study and practice, but he relied on his subconscious to provide the melodic foundations on which he constructed his pieces.

Although this reliance on trance-states and inner prompting was anathema to the modernist aesthetic, as a method of composing it had a long and impressive pedigree. Brahms, Mozart, Puccini, Strauss, Mahler, Yeats and Tennyson all acknowledged that the music came through them in some way, as if 'from another place.' Among popular music writers, Jim Morrison, Little Richard, John Lennon and George Harrison, Keith Richard and The Rolling Stones, Billy Joel and Sting all spoke of transcendent states when they wrote music. 

 

In this brief review, the composer's nephew William Lloyd sketches out what these musicians have said about their methods.  For more detailed treatment of George Lloyd's own technique, please refer to the articles by Peter Davison, above.  

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