My need to compose is frequently driven by questions. Why, for example, since 1570, are there so few multi-part vocal pieces? What would it mean to write one today? As a resident artist at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, I was able to develop some alternative modern approaches to traditional polyphony, concentrating on methods for improving clarity between parts and creating, huge, spatial textures in a 35 minute piece for one hundred singers, one to a part.  I’ve been interested in the opportunities that writing one to a part vocal music can bring for developing some extraordinary sounds in choral pieces. The possibilities for large, monolithic blocks of sound, contrasted against subtle and carefully positioned individual lines are extremely exciting in this format. I’m going to call this type of writing, for want of a better term, macropolyphony. Probably risky, I know, as Ligeti has famously claimed micropolyphony, but this isn’t related to that process. I’m working on methods for how parts might interact and inter-relate across extreme expanses of textural space.  If composition could do ‘big-data’, this would be it. Continue reading