The Composer’s Paradox: An Exploration of Restriction and Freedom in the Compositional Process

Tomorrow I will present a paper at a postgraduate symposium in Leeds. This presentation forms part of my ongoing PhD research. An abstract is included below:

One can investigate the compositional process in terms of the conflict between restriction and freedom. Restriction can take many forms, some of which are imposed by logistics (for example, instrumental practicalities and performer ability), and others which are imposed by the composer (such as macro- and micro-level patterning processes and extra-musical concepts). These often then become the basis of stylistic conventions and, in a way, ‘knowledge’. Freedom exists in symbiotic relation to restriction, and both constitute such ‘knowledge’. This presentation seeks to explore various examples of this paradox using music by the speaker and recent works by other composers.

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