About

Playing Gamelunk with Naga Mas

Homebrew synth, early 80s

The pismo years

Gigging guy

Conducting invention ensemble

At uni, late 70s

Composer

One time, as a young child, we visited a family who had a grand piano in their living room. I remember spending a joyful afternoon rumbling and plinking away, conjuring up thunderstorms, sunshine, and rain on this wonderful piece of sonic furniture.

I’ve always been a composer: or at any rate, a creator of music. At university I made up ragtime tunes on the guitar and bass lines on the synthesiser I built. In my days as a gigging jazz/pop/reggae trumpet player, I was the guy who came up with the horn charts and wrote them out. At Napier university, I became a joint first study in trumpet and composition, and came away with an LLCM in both disciplines.

Over the last twenty years I have created something over a hundred original works, a good proportion of which are documented on this website. At the moment I’m pursuing a number of creative outlets:

  • large-scale score-based and/or devised contemporary-classical works, continuing an investigation into music-as-theatre/music-as-performance which was at the heart of my PhD research
  • smaller score-based works for one or a couple of performers, often incorporating live or pre-recorded electronic material
  • a collection of… ideas, proposals, outlines, might-be pieces: ruminations on classical music, love it or hate it
  • mucking around with technology
  • in collaboration with my partner Margaret Smith, creating original material for a small set of gamelan instruments which we brought back from Indonesia

Teacher

I hold a permanent post at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly the RSAMD) as a lecturer and coordinator of the MMus programme. As well as teaching on that programme, I also deliver undergraduate modules in composition, arranging, orchestration, music in society, world music, and practical musicianship.

Two years ago I completed a PhD at the University of St Andrews under the auspices of the Conservatoire, with a thesis entitled ‘Music as theatre, music as performance: six new works’. I look forward to continuing a strand of academic research as part of my creative practice.

Between 1993 and this year, I taught at Stevenson College Edinburgh (now Edinburgh College). I specialised in composition and music technology, but also from time to time covered theory, aural, improvisation, sound recording, harmony, history and performance. In my capacity as part of the delivery team for their BA (Hons) in Music Performance, I also held a nominal post as an Associate Lecturer at Abertay University.

Performer

Between 1998 and 2002 I worked mainly as a freelance trumpet player, also playing trombone, didgeridu, guitar, and world percussion. I did session and gigging work with a wide variety of pop, jazz and world groups, including Salsa Celtica, Tartan Amoebas, Eliza Carthy and Brian McNeil, appearing at numerous major venues and festivals, UK and worldwide. During this period I also worked as a performer/actor/musician with a number of theatre companies, including Communicado, Northern Stage, IOU Theatre and Forced Entertainment.

For a number of years my performing activity lapsed, with the exception of appearances with the Glasgow gamelan group Naga Mas, and occasional guerilla activity with my street-band-gone-wrong The Society for High Art Music. Over the last year or so I have taken a renewed interest in performing, doing some junk-electronic improvisations and even occasionally dusting off the trumpet. A space to be watched.

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