The Coronavirus lockdowns, which pretty well all countries have experienced over the past year have created a lot of difficulties – lost jobs and business revenue, fewer opportunities to socialise, travel, attend events and participate in sports, and an extraordinary isolation from friends, family and colleagues.
However, every cloud …
The first UK lockdown pretty well coincided with my departure from the field of workplace learning and development, where my main focus had been on helping others to teach and learn using media and technology. While this career provided me with many opportunities for creative expression (blogging, writing books and articles, graphics, animation, video) and for public performance (presenting, teaching, facilitating and so on), there was one longstanding itch that it did not scratch.
From the age of 12, when my older brother gifted me his 1959 Hofner semi-acoustic guitar, with which he’d failed to make any headway, my passion has been for music. While I did my fair share of performing in bands, and became comfortable playing all sorts of guitars and keyboards, my primary musical interest has always been in composition.
So, stuck at home with lots and lots of time at my disposal, the opportunity arrived at last to scratch the compositional itch, to find out what I was really capable of achieving without the usual constraints of everyday life.
I’ve always been goal-orientated and I love a project. So, rather than just compose one thing and then move on to composing another, I decided to structure my work around a number of key objectives:
- Exploring all of the key dimensions of music – rhythm, tempo, melody, harmony, progressions, lyric writing – not just by doing what everybody does when they’re working within a single genre, but by experimenting across genres and to the extremes. You can see what I’ve achieved so far in the Labwerks section of this site.
- Familiarising myself with a wide range of musical instruments and then composing pieces for each of these which showcase their potential, again across genres. So far, I’ve done the nylon string guitar, the flute and the violin. I’ll be looking at many more solo instruments, but also ensembles, from brass bands to string quartets. My work so far can be found in the Instrumming section of this site.
- Trying to understand where music comes from. What are the catalysts for musical composition? What sparks off an idea that might take the composer out of their comfort zone and result in a piece that surprises and delights the listener? This work can be found in the Sparks section which, at the time of writing, is in its very early stages of development.
Instrumentality is a record of one person’s mad musical adventure. Mine. It may inspire you to push yourself as a composer, and you may get some enjoyment from the musical ideas and examples I’ve sketched out here, but Instrumentality’s principal purpose has been to stimulate my own learning. Through exploration. Through experimentation. And through the sheer timeless joy of music.