In recent years, and growing alongside my enthralment with creating quarter-tonal soundworlds, I have been fascinated with psychology and with different ways of expressing and connecting to emotions using music.
Most of my pieces now have a relatively complex story behind them of various characters with different traits, all reacting to one another, creating the structure (or journey) of the piece. At the same time as building these big characters and stories inside my head, the music representing them has gotten more and more minimal, focused, and more importantly – vulnerable. It’s like every single melodic fragment represents somebody’s whole world, their entire outlook on life. The pain they try to hide, now fully visible in musical form, encompassing what they have been through and who they are now.
In this time of seemingly perfect social media lives, with many of us rebelling by sharing honestly about our struggles with mental health and career setbacks, I want to believe that this type of vulnerability in music is necessary. To be able to admit our pain and connect deeply with our emotions rather than run away from them is what makes us stronger. To connect to it in music is cathartic.
The first piece I wrote which represents this type of approach is Postlude, for viola and cello, written in 2014 at the Dartington advanced composition course. To express this emotional rawness using quarter-tones felt so liberating that I knew I had found my voice.
In contrast, Together, alone is about staying still while everyone around you finds their own voice, their own journey - making you feel more and more lonely, even when surrounded by people. It was written during a difficult time in my life when I was struggling with finding my own identity outside of music.
I hope that the emotional vulnerability in this and my other pieces inspires others to be honest about their own emotions and struggles, so that we all feel a little less alone.