L’auteur n’est pas mort

Video score

Above is, um, a ‘video score’ for the hang part; I made a video of what I wanted Salil to do, and posted it online.

6/07/07 for clarinet, piano and hang

Composer’s note (1)

You see, I don’t really do calls for scores any more. I mean, ok, I use notation, but it’s hardly the point, is it? It’s about providing a service, not a product; the score is not the work, the work is the work, a particular performance at a particular time and place. And, this one was an anonymous call for scores! It’s like you’re not only dead but buried in an unmarked grave!

Of course, it can be done; I have often resorted to ‘notating’ complex, nonlinear, open, performative, theatrical, multimedia works, as many composers have done. By using a hotchpotch of aleatoric strategies, diagrams, verbal explanations and so forth, it’s possible to jump through the score-based hoop, and produce a closed, dead ‘piece’ which can be defended in a musical court of law as constituting the complete specification of the work.

But it’s all so tedious! Compared to just turning up and telling the players where I want them to move to in the space, or asking them how they feel about reading out some text, or trying out a passage where the players have metrically uncoordinated material, or experimenting with devised material using given scales, or teaching them a rhythmic phrase. This is now the way in which I write music.

Composer’s note (2)

The programme note given for J. Simon van der Walt’s ‘L’auteur n’est pas mort’ is incorrect, it should read;

‘L’Auter est mort’ is a lighthearted romp through the history (and future!) of music, through the eyes of three colourful musical characters – a merry jumble of haunting melodies and jazz breaks, with a few raspberries blown in the direction of so-called ‘modern’ music along the way!

Composer’s note (3)

“Ladies and gentlemen, most of you will I’m sure by now be aware of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding – well, anyway obviously the composer will not be with us tonight. In addition, earlier this evening I discovered an email from Simon, sent shortly before his tragic – em – anyway, it transpires that the programme note printed in the conference brochure is – um – mistakenly, the wrong one, so, as a mark of – em – I’ll read the correct programme note;

‘L’auteur n’est par mort’ offers a playful recontextualisation of competing social and historical constructions of musical space and time, outlining a critique of unquestioned assumptions surrounding the notions of ‘concert’ and ‘composer’, by proposing an ironic new reading of genre-as-marginalisation through a semiotic and syntactical treatment of C. Hubert Parry’s ‘The Evolution of the Art of Music’, David Raksin’s score for ‘Laura’ (1944), and the heuristic folksonomies – of Kylie Minogue.


Composed for the International Conference on Music Since 1900 at York in 2007; devised in collaboration with and performed by Panayiotis Demopoulos (piano), Jonathan Sage (clarinet), and Salil Sachdev (hang).

Duration ~13′