A portfolio of compositions and commentary

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The following commentary describes seven compositions for different ensembles and solo instruments:
1. The familiar narrowing of homecoming (small ensemble)
2. Simultaneously sovereign and invaded (trumpet and string quartet)
3. Dance Triptych (solo piano)
4. Trombone Concerto (trombone and large orchestra)
5. Two inventions (string quartet)
6. Hidden Traces/Ancient Places for Brass Septet
7. Concerto for Chamber Orchestra (large ensemble)

In this portfolio I explore the use of cantabile lines in instrumental writing, in particular in my writing for brass. It seems to me that, unlike music for other instruments, much contemporary brass writing has ignored the possibility of developing the lyricism found in the later 19th-and realy 20th-century, instead exploring the use of extended techniques, extreme viruosity, or the lyricism of jazz, for example in the solo trumpet concerto works of Turnage, Birtwistle, Maxwell Davis and Gruber. Three pieces in the portfolio (Simultaneously sovereign and invaded, Trombone Concerto and the Brass Septet) specifically explore the lyrical potential of the 'pure' sound of the instruments of the 'heavy brass' section: trumpet, trombone and tuba.

A second research strand is the way in which, as a brass performer-composer, my intuition informs the way in which I write; the extent to which my music is, notated improvisations, in that it is does not, in general, adhere strictly to any pre-planned compositional systems or procedures.

Thirdly, two pieces, Simultaneously sovereign and invaded and Trombone Concerto, explore the use of brass instruments as concertante soloist.
Date of Award2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorRobert Keeley (Supervisor) & Silvina Milstein (Supervisor)

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