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Situating My Music

Music listeners typically orient themselves historically, asking: what tradition of composition is this music a result of? In the case of my own electronic and acoustic music, the answer I would give is: my music can be understood as an outflow of teachings of the Darmstadt School as well as the Frankfurt School.

Both schools are still in existence today, but their flowering falls into the period from 1950 to 1970, approximately. Both schools are German, but are seen today as of international importance.

As a composer, I owe to the Darmstadt school the notion that at the end of World War II a new period of musical history has arrived that consciously leaves behind traditional tonal music. New sounds, new technologies of composition, new purposes of music making are sought, following the Viennese composer Anton Webern. Hallmark ideas of the music philosophy of the School are: "no piece should be reminding you of any other you have ever heard," "every piece should be based on its own unique material", "musical materials are representative of a specific historical time", and "old habits, even one's own, deserve to be broken".

As a theorist of composition, I owe to the Frankfurt School, especially Adorno, the notion that musical materials are a medium in which to articulate one's own awareness of the society one lives in, using the most advanced technologies available. One's awareness is heightened by the ability to think dialectically, — in opposites that give shape to the parameters of musical sound (pitch, instrumental color, tone height, tone volume, etc.) and form (flow, density, intrinsic relationship of sections and movements).

While these general tenets may sound "ideological", they have influenced my generation, and my ways of using the craft and tools of musical composition. Composed between 1965 and 2010, my music never left the path I learned to walk in Darmstadt and Frankfurt.

Most of my early electronic music was composed at the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht, The Netherlands