The blurred lines of music, science and nature
I’ve always felt there were blurred lines between music and nature, as nature seems to be where I get my most instinctive compositional urges – inspiration, ideas and snippets of music. If I’m not feeling particularly creative and am in need of inspiration, a walk out in the world will normally restore my mind more quickly than any of the other methods I use to try and inspire me. Science is also another topic close to my heart; at one stage I wanted to try and do a degree in Music and Chemistry, but no universities would offer me that combination when I was studying! I have always been interested in psychological areas relating to music, such as music in the mind in general, auralisation and synaesthesia, and in the science of composition (compositional practice).
In When Bjork Met Attenborough, Bjork looks at the links between music, nature and science, and looks at how she can use science to bring nature to her stages (such as using gravity, solar power and lightening). I thoroughly enjoyed the documentary, and thought a lot of her ideas for mimicking nature within music, such as using the structure of crystals, were both interesting and inspiring.
It strikes me that nature and science come into a lot of my music too. Building Blocks was inspired by the concept of piecing something together from a molecular level – the idea for which came to me while wandering around Basildon’s Gloucester Park (picture below – a lovely place to think!). Bells in the Rain was inspired by a combination of the text, and by watching the rain. An ongoing piece (title to be shared later) for small ensemble was directly influenced by the snow falls and flurries that occurred earlier this year, and by the way they were structured, while Tempestuous for solo organ was inspired by storms. Going back a little further, Scenes from a Train included influences from nature as well as from the world around us (it included buildings alongside nature itself).
As a result of both watching the documentary and realising how heavily my work is influenced by nature, I’ve decided to exploit the connection further in a series of short pieces, which I hope to release via this blog over the next few months. They will each focus on one particular element and will look at it from a scientific point of view as well as its natural beauty. I am hoping that the science behind the natural element will help give guidance for the structure of the piece as well as influencing other areas. While these are pieces that will have to slot around my other scheduled compositions, I am hoping they will force me to explore and think in different ways, as a way of furthering my compositional practice.
I began researching and improvising around the concept of the first piece – which will be for solo piano – this weekend. I have a couple of (piano-less!) breaks coming up, so work on this may take a little longer than I intend, but I hope to be sharing it with you soon.