• Articles

    Dreamy… to start with.

    The composer Zoltan Kodaly has a special place in my heart and history. I like much of his music, which is very folk-based. He was the chap that pioneered formal classical music based on local regional folk & popular music. He actually traveled around his native Hungary with wax cylinders recording peasants, villagers and gypsies singing their made-up songs. Then he composed pieces of music based on them, and inspired his colleague Bela Bartok to base much of his music on folk tunes and hence the formal genre now known as ‘ethnomusicology‘ was born. Perhaps Kodaly’s most famous piece is a suite from his opera Hary Janos which features a…

  • Articles

    Mind the Gap!

    If you’ve ever been on the Tube (London Underground) you’ll be familiar with the phrase “Mind the Gap!” Not only is it announced as train doors open, but it’s also written on the floor in numerous stations. To make it easy and efficient for trains to traverse the underground tube-like tunnels throughout London, some tracks are curved even in the stations. Therefore, the platforms are also curved. But train carriages are straight. Naturally, the center of each train carriage is the closest it gets to the platform but the ends of each carriage can be far away. For the sake of providing an efficient service, there is a gap. By this time…

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    How is ‘beautiful’ music defined?

    This past week my wife asked me to compose something beautiful, preferably for the cello (as that’s her favourite instrument). I said “What do you mean?” “Not ‘intelligent’ or clever or busy, just something… beautiful.” “Meaning what, exactly?” “Oh, I don’t know. Like, a song that’s nice.” “Oh, OK!” I said. “I’m right on it!”   Er… can you help me?!   What do you think she means? Am I displaying an incredible amount of utter ignorance here? I thought some of my choral music is particularly beautiful (especially “Lucy’s Song” using a text by Charles Dickens), and if you’ve heard “A Mother’s Lament” I’m sure you’ll agree that can…

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    Memory lane: Was it good, bad or empty?

    Each month I keep an eye on the conversations I’m having with people to find topics for my next #OrchChat – an hour of discussion on Twitter about orchestras. Usually the three topics of each chat are quite diverse but so far have somehow bled into each other. It’s really a fascinating hour. Click here to read the transcript of January’s #OrchChat Over the past couple of weeks there is one conversation that has cropped up several times from several sources, including the excellent & brief daily snippet of arts news You’ve Cott Mail, and I was just wondering about your experience in the arts. This topic just might be…

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    World Premiere Was Wonderful!

    Last month I had the distinct honor of attending a Holiday concert in a rather chilly New Jersey, during which my Global Music Award winning piece Wind Quintet 1 was played for the very first time. Thanks to Jane Rondin and the Zephyrs Winds, I got to hear what the ‘human element’ could add to the composition I’d been hearing in my head and online for weeks. Click it to tweet it: “Direct human interaction transforms the way we experience music.” (Recordings vs. live concerts) @Stephen_P_Brown It was pretty good! The audience seemed to really enjoy all four movements and I’m so pleased there were many friends & fans who…