African Composition Techniques

My project is to write a Composition Treatise which draws largely on my six-volume set of nearly 100 piano pieces, Afrikosmos. Conceptually modelled on Béla Bartók’s Mikrokosmos, Afrikosmos is both a course of study for pianists and a compendium of composition technniques which synthesise traditional African and Western art musics.
As the Afrikosmos collection has progressed I have become aware of the necessity to write about the music – the techniques, origins, syntheses – with the body of music providing many of the examples. In order to cover the broadest range of techniques and processes I also intend to draw on my works in other mediums such as the string quartets and pieces for a range of mixed ensembles and orchestra.
A key figure in my thinking over the past decade has been the American architect Christopher Alexander whose four-volume study “The Nature of Order” has both informed and confirmed the way I work. His “Fifteen Fundamental Properties” can be related to 15 essential pillars of musical composition and other creative arts.
The treatise will likely be structured in three parts: background and history; techniques and processes; aesthetics, drawing on Christopher Alexander’s work. The outcome should be a work of at least 200 pages with musical examples and CD supplement to be published by Bardic Edition UK.

Project leader(s):
  • Michael Blake (Composer, Concert Pianist, Writer)

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