This is a lecture I recently gave at Soochow University about my own music and how my creative process has been working in the past three years. The video is below. Here is the abstract:
How Biology, Mathematics, and Evolution Became My Compositional Focus
by Dr. Robert McClure
Every composer faces the same crippling object at the beginning of a new work; the blank page. Some composers look to past musical models for inspiration. Some rely on pre-formed musical systems or tools such as serialism, minimalism, or chance methods to put notes onto the page. Some composers rely on pure intuition and allow their brain, heart, soul, and being to flow effortlessly onto the page. What does a composer do if these options do not promote new ideas, but rather stifle creativity further? What is to be done if purely musical ideas
This lecture will track the inspiration and influences on my compositional output over the last four years, which will include six different works, featuring Warning Colors (2013) for orchestra, which was awarded the Paul and Christiane Cooper Prize in Composition from Rice University. The other works being discussed are Desert Miniatures: Insects (2012) for three bassoons, The Lightning Field (2014) for baritone voice, bass clarinet, trumpet, trombone, and computer, at water’s edge (2014) for violin and percussion, and Homologic (2015) for bass flute, clarinet, and computer. The lecture will offer detailed analysis of excerpts, audio examples, and the general background of each work. Particular attention will be given to the non-musical inspirations from each work and how those transformed my compositional process, method, and philosophy. The conclusions drawn from this self-reflection can be applied to many artistic and non-artistic fields.
The field of biology and the study of evolution have profoundly transformed the way in which my musical ideas are generated and developed. The computer has become my partner in the composition process, allowing for complex data mapping based on algorithms, which interpret and render observations of the natural world.
Creativity exists in many forms. My creative process has rejected constructing music from musical stimuli alone. Instead, I have been harnessing content from science and mathematics and “seeing” music in places where no music is to be found.