What We Make of It

 Programme Notes


I suppose you could say that  "What We Make of It"  was interactively composed, in the sense that it was written over a number of weeks in between visits to and rehearsals with the members of the Brighton & Hove Youth Concert Band and String Chamber Orchestra.

From the very outset, I was keen to involve the musicians in my compositional process, to listen to their ideas, and to give them a say in how the final piece would eventually sound.  Together, we discussed what the music would be about, and we agreed that the composition should make reference to a wide selection of different aspects of Brighton and its surrounding area.  To help give the piece some structure, we decided that the composition would depict what might happen within one day in and around Brighton.

In my first session with the musicians, I asked them to not only tell me but also play me two contrasting impressions that they had about the area, and from this all sorts of ideas emerged.  Many were agreed that the sea had a dominant effect on the town and so the music should reflect that in some way.  Similarly, it was felt other influences such as the majestic looking Pavilion, and the liveliness of the city, should find their way into the composition; and there was also the less obvious: the presence of Brighton's homeless on the streets and the council's various roadwork widening schemes, to name but two.

I returned to work with the musicians on various occasions, each time arriving with a larger score as more of the music was written.  We would play through the evolving composition and I would explain what I was trying to do with the music and how I had made use of the previous session's ideas.  We would then try to come up with new musical ways to connect with our theme.  In one particularly succesful session, for example, the musicians played me their addresses on their instruments one at a time for me to record, and many of these were eventually integrated into the composition.

The musicians would often offer new ideas and quite often comment on what was written so far, requesting minor alterations.  For those with internet access I was also able to email the score in between visits so they could keep up with my progress as well as have the facility for inputting their own ideas.

Gradually then, through this interactive method, "What We Make of It" became realised into a finalised composition.  Through listening to the piece of music you will get a glimpse of how we perceive Brighton and Hove.  Listen out for the sun rising over the sea, the town waking up to another busy day, the emergency services being called out to an accident, the sounds of traffic, and the sea and town preparing for another lively night’s entertainment.  Most of all, listen to the music and decide whether your experience of Brighton is similar as to what we make of it.

Now, click here to listen to score!