Musical Style

When I was in my teens I was intially interested in classical music but eventually found myself also enjoying a lot of rock and popular music. I was particularly attracted to those "progressive" groups who tried to combine these disparate musical styles. The music that I write is strongly influenced by this desire to create a satisfactory combination of different styles. Contemporary Australian and American music has also been a tremendous influence; in particular the music of Australian composers Peter Sculthorpe and Ross Edwards, and American composers such as Samuel Barber, Philip Glass and John Adams.

In an effort to distance himself from composers like Glass and Steve Reich, John Adams once used the term "continuous music" to describe his musical style. I have always thought that this term was also particularly appropriate when describing my own music. Since writing my orchestral work, Rituals in Transfigured Time for the 1997 Masterprize competition, I have used this "continuous" style to write descriptive works, such as Staring at the Sun (for large ensemble) and Port Kembla (for orchestra), and also for more abstract works, like Hyper-Ballads, which focus on rhythmic elements as a reflection of life at the end of the twentieth century.

Technology and technological innovation are accelerating at an exponential rate; all sorts of devices are continually being made smaller, faster and more feature-packed and there is a general obsession with speed and the use of time. We find ourselves compulsively filling every minute of the day with some sort of activity. We say to ourselves that there aren't enough hours in the day, but in reality many of us are addicted to the rush. While I am wary of where technology is going to take us in the future, I do find myself swept along by the exhilaration of living in an era of change and innovation.

Most of my music, therefore, uses fast tempi and textures built up out of layers of repetitive figurations. These figurations form the "continuous" element, and are not meant to describe anything mechanical, or refer to any particular type of technology, but merely to suggest the pace of life. Long, sinuous melodic lines soar over the top of these textures, while the harmonies and harmonic progressions are sometime derived from rock and popular music. The other recognisable feature of much of my music is the use of additive rhythms, such as 13/8 and 7/8, which are basically patterns created out of alternate long and short beats. I use these additive rhythms in a repetitive, mantra-like way; in much the same way as repetitive rhythms are used in rock and popular music.