The Composer's Domain: Method and Material

December 17, 2021 · Book-chapter

Cover of Sound Work Composition as Critical Technical Practice


In this chapter, I explore the use of two kinds of computer technology—mobile phones and physical computing devices—in compositional practice, with particular reference to two of my recent works: Vanishing Points (2017) and The Undulatory Theory of Light (2018). I focus on how the use of such computer technology raises two key issues. First, it may necessitate an understanding of technical concepts from computer science not typically addressed in formal, musical training. Second, it issues a challenge to the standard model of music as a performing art. I am therefore interested in how the use of certain computer technologies augments core aspects of compositional practice, namely the domain of skill and the typical modalities for sharing new work. I take this augmentation as the premise for the creative deployment of the technologies under consideration, as well as the reason for reflecting upon issues that follow their use.

‘The Composer’s Domain: Method & Material’ by Nicholas Brown is published in Sound Work: Composition as Critical Technical Practice, ed. Jonathan Impett (Leuven University Press, Orpheus Institute Series), 2021