A composer's search for a distinctive voice in an era of musical diversity

  • Robert Ramskill

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The output submitted in this portfolio manifests the composer’s search for a distinctive voice in an era of musical diversity.

    From my total output of some sixty original compositions (see Appendix 2 on page 71) seven have been selected for inclusion here. The reasons for their selection will be explained more fully in later sections of this overview but I feel it would be helpful to outline briefly the thinking behind their selection at the outset. Essentially the first three compositions here are works that I consider to be mature and successful ones despite the fact that they each inhabit a very different sound world from the others to the extent that the listener might, with some justification, doubt that they could have been written by the same composer. Their very lack of any hint of a unified line of progression from one work to the next graphically demonstrates the point, to be further developed later, that the process of sifting through potential compositional influences with a view to developing one’s own original voice is often more protracted and difficult for composers active from around the mid-point of the 20th century onwards than it was for earlier generations of composers. In the past young composers would make their first attempts within a comparatively settled musical environment in which there would be at least some semblance of agreement about what musical techniques and forms would represent the ‘norm’. The first three compositions in the portfolio epitomise three very different possible routes I had been investigating as part of the ‘sifting’ process mentioned above. The remaining four compositions have then been selected to demonstrate how a synthesis of these contrasting approaches was attempted and, in my view, successfully achieved. The table overleaf summarises the stylistic issues involved.
    Date of Award2009
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University

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