Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Empfindsamkeit


"Empfindsamkeit" started off as a commission from Christopher Redgate. His idea was to write a piece for his Oboe Quintet to appear on an upcoming CD. Unfortunately, it wasn't finished in time for the recording.  However, in the extra time that I was permitted, a situation occurred that unwittingly contributed to changing my ideas about my music. Unlike much of the music that I composed around that time, this work was written without much prior organisation.  Usually, my work is planned meticulously. Weeks, sometimes months are spent, organising pitch elements and rhythms. No such undertaking for this work.  What I heard was virtually what was written down.  No more, no less.  Instead, I concentrated on the sonorities of the music.  I moved my focus from pitch and rhythm to timbre and colour.  I also had not written for such a conventional group of instruments. Had it not been for Christopher Redgate, I would not have entertained this particular combination. Nevertheless, I was encouraged by the fact that both Ferneyhough and Dillon have written amazing string quartets.

One thing that needs to be made clear - there is no romantic rekindling of the past.  The idea of sentimentality is still too close to music of the romantic period for comfort. This work is intended to heighten the senses; I mean in the same way that Synesthesia, Tetrachromacy or Misophonia (but without the rage - just pure emotion) does.  This work, alongside "Adieu", was the beginning of a new phase in my compositional output.  Instead of the hectic world of "Damballah" and "Chantefables", it was the colour/timbre conscious serenity of "Adieu" and "Empfindsamkeit" after which there would be a pause of about seven years and a rethink about the next step.

As mentioned before, although their wasn’t much pre-planning, there are tight reins held on the pitch and rhythmic material: throughout this work there is a fixed pitch register(e.g. notes will only appear at a specific positions in the scale). For example, the first nine bars stick almost exclusively to these pitches in the string parts;

Fixed register
.

The Oboe part has slightly more freedom.  The register is comprised of an octave tetrachords which are dominated by intervals of thirds and fourths.  The two lowest octaves are orientated around a ‘C’ natural, the higher around a ’G’ sharp.  The first two have a mirroring quality.
A similar process (fixed patterns) occurs where the rhythmic writing is concerned. Each bar either consists of staggered rhythmic cells (e.g the string writing of the first bar) or of a rhythmic decomposition (broken down into tiny cells) of an initial idea:
The first rhythms of the string parts of the bar below...


However, it is the coloristic effects that form the most significant element of this work.  It is my intention to create a ‘metallic’ effect by staggering the timbral effects so that the vibrations react with one another.  Rather like the natural harmonics effect of orchestral string writing, it is not normally discernible on its own but with a microphone it can be picked up:
'Syncopated' timbral effects.



At the time, this composition didn't appear to be significant to my journey as a composer.  However, the long self imposed break afterwards meant that it is important landmark; in terms of the music that came before and the music that came afterwards.  It made me realise that to accomplish the desired effects I could only use micro-phoned chamber musicians or the forces of an orchestra and that is the direction that I needed to head towards.

Monday, 21 September 2015

In the shadow of a genius.




Recently, I have discovered a fascinating revelation about the composers we admire so much.  That behind many geniuses, there usually is a predecessor lurking in the background.  It reminds of that often quoted phrase by Picasso
good artist borrows and great artist steals

Now, I am not suggesting that the composers who I mention are stealing peoples' ideas - there is no evidence to support that fact.  However, I am suggesting that the idea of a genius who came from nowhere may not be accurate.  Let's take the case of Ernest Fanelli.  Who? You might ask.  He is a significant but unknown person in the development of impressionism.  He is an Italian born composer living in Paris.  He composed a good deal of 'new' music at the end of the nineteenth century.  His ideas were quite radical; his instrumentation included harmonics, sul pont., he used wordless choruses.  Unfortunately, he wasn't as talented a composer as Debussy and his music wasn't played as often.  He struggled as a musician and turned to copying to supplement his living.  When he handed his music to a conductor as an example of his copying skills, the conductor was so impressed by his music that he arranged performances.  Even though, some of the music was written before Debussy, it wasn't played until after his music was premiered.  A controversy ensued.  Debussy denying any claims that he knew his work.  It became such an issue that at one time Debussy walked into a cafe and when he saw that Fanelli was playing his own compositions, he walked straight back out again. 
Ravel said,

"now we know where his [Debussy’s] impressionism comes from".
To be fair, there can be no conclusive proof either way and it is possible for two people to work on exactly the same thing in two different places.  It would make no difference.  Claude Debussy was a better composer and had he not been a leading figure in impressionism, I don't think we would be as preoccupied with Fanelli's music.
Now to another unknown.  Has anyone heard of Hans Rott? Who you may inquire.  Well, this case is a little more clear cut.  Hans Rott is a friend of Mahler.  He was a very sensitive man.  He loved to write symphonies in the style of Bruckner but wanted to take the art-form to another level.  I think you know where this is going...He wrote symphonies on a grand scale with huge climaxes, bird song... Like Fanelli he wasn't the best composer of his time but he was brimming with innovative ideas.  Unfortunately, he suffered from self-doubt.  Brahms told him that he
"had no talent whatsoever and should give up music"
But Mahler saw the talent and the failings.  His second symphony uses many of the innovations.
Hans Rott was committed to an asylum in the late 19 century and died a few years later.  He was only 25. Mahler clearly admits his admiration for some of his work.
a musician of genius ... who died unrecognised and in want on the very threshold of his career. ... What music has lost in him cannot be estimated. Such is the height to which his genius soars in ... [his] Symphony [in E major], which he wrote as 20-year-old youth and makes him ... the Founder of the New Symphony as I see it. To be sure, what he wanted is not quite what he achieved. … But I know where he aims. Indeed, he is so near to my inmost self that he and I seem to me like two fruits from the same tree which the same soil has produced and the same air nourished. He could have meant infinitely much to me and perhaps the two of us would have well-nigh exhausted the content of new time which was breaking out for music.





Symphony E minor 

Hans Rott is the initial inspiration of Mahler's symphonic style. It is difficult to imagine the Second Symphony without the ground work that his predecessor had made.

Now onto Arthur Lourié.  He was a prominent Russian avant garde composer.  He befriended Igor Stravinsky and did copying work for him.  Lourie was one of the first composers in modern music to leave an empty space where there were empty bars. Stravinsky may have been influenced by the layout of Lourie scores. Lourie was known as a avant garde composer but he suddenly changed direction in the 1920s.  Then, he wrote in the "neo-classical" style.


Lourié’s A Little Chamber Music (1924) seems to prophesy Stravinsky’s Apollon musagète (1927)...Certainly in his later works Stravinsky adopted Lourié’s style of notation with blank space instead of empty bars.
In my opinion, there is nothing wrong using the material from the past(no matter how recent) to boost new music.  The worrying aspect of this concept is when the composer doesn't publicise the influence. To say the attribution is "hidden" may be stretching a point too far but openness promotes a more comfortable feeling about the borrowing of other composer's ideas.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Streaming royalties




Michael Price is a composer of television and film music and the chair of the New Media Executive Committee of the British Academy of Songwriters.  He is unhappy about the changes made by media companies in the way that composers are being paid for their music.

(The Independent)
Price said he was a supporter of licensed streaming services, but called for a new era of “transparency” in which tech giants and record companies disclose explicit details of the deals which set the rates on how much artists and songwriters receive. His comments follow the recent launches of the Amazon Prime Music and Apple Music streaming services, and come in the wake of claims by US musician David Byrne that record companies are siphoning off revenues from streaming and not paying royalties to artists and writers.
Price claimed that many of their employees didn’t recognise the value of music. “People working in these tech companies are often of a generation that has never paid for music in a conventional sense. They cannot understand that the value of their service is only because people want to listen to the music on it.”
Price pointed out that, unlike successful pop and rock artists, composers were usually not able to supplement their music royalties by selling tickets for live performances. “There was a concept that free exposure for artists was good for our career – that ship sailed quite a long time ago.”
He is chair of the media executive committee of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, which is campaigning for a 50-50 split of streaming royalties between the creator of a piece of music and the record companies. Songwriters currently receive only 10.5 per cent.
Price is looking forward to the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes Prom at the Royal Albert Hall in London next weekend, featuring the score he wrote with fellow composer David Arnold, alongside other music connected to the detective.
But he fears quality music from less high-profile shows is being denied the chance to be recorded as an album because of low streaming rates
.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Female composers and New Complexity.



Female-composers-new-complexity

This is a controversial one.  

I am reposting a discussion that Tim Rutherford-Johnson had with some of twitter followers about the lack of Female New Complexity composers. As far as I am concerned, there are two major issues here:

One is the lack of published female composers.

The other is the terminology "New Complexity" - what does it refer to and what does it mean?



Sunday, 16 August 2015

Helmut Lachenmann



Helmut Lachenmann is relatively unknown outside of Germany.  Nevertheless, he is a figure who is growing in significance in modern music circles.  Despite his wide experience, his lack of broad appeal is, in my opinion, largely due to the individuality of his music.  He is not easy to categorise in an era which is dominated by trends and cliches.


A simple way of describing his music is... *"musique concrète instrumentale". The notion is the creation of a subtlety of transformation of timbre, a manipulation of a continuum from sound to noise, from pitched notes to pitchless textural exploration, and all that in the sphere of (mostly) purely instrumental music. That means that in Lachenmann's music, there's a world of sound that rivals and even surpasses what electronic and electro-acoustic composers can achieve.  -Guardian.

Essentially,  he is a acoustic composer writing electronic sounding music.  He is somewhere in-between the timbralist composers like Iannis Xenakis/James Dillon and the spectralist like Gerard Grisey/Trsitan Murail. But his compositional 'reason d'etre' is often hidden.  He is an individual, creating new sounds that amaze audiences.  Also, his scores are untouched by the 'new complexity' which means that his scores can be relatively simple.




His desire to separate himself from any categorisation is both a blessing and a stumbling block.  Although he is completely unique, he hasn't had the same recognition that the figures who are more relatable have acquired. His understanding of instrumentation is incredible. It is something that, for the uninitiated, is thoroughly recommended. 



*The phrase, "musique concrète", comes from Pierre Schaeffer, one of the pioneers of electro-acoustic music in the 1940s.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

What is Stockhausen's legacy?






Karlheinz Stockhausen is one of the most important composers of the post war era. He is partially responsible for the creation of the post war modernist music.   But what is his true legacy? Was he the leading composer in his field?

Did he invent the 'timbralist' idea of generating music from a single sound? Well, he did accomplish that concept with "Stimmung'' (Voice) which is completely designed around the single chord of a B flat ninth. But he wasn't the first.  Giacinto Scelsi wrote "Quatro pezzi per orchestre" which is based a single note per movement and that work was written in 1959.



Quatro pezzi per orchestre - Scelsi

I seriously doubt whether Stockhausen knew about Scelsi's achievement when he wrote Stimmung in 1977.

Perhaps one of his greatest works  is "Gruppen'' (Groups) composed for three orchestras. Did it change the way we use the orchestra?  He was a pioneer, especially in the early stages of his profession career as a composer; writing for larger orchestras that used unusual combinations. But unfortunately, as vast financial investments received diminishing returns, the use of the orchestra dwindled. Most of modern music is written for much smaller forces.


Did his electronic compositions change the way we think about music?  Stockhausen mixed music with real sounds. His 1956 "Gesang der Jünglinge'' (Song of the Youths) combined electronics with voices. "Kontakte'' (Contacts) of 1960 was one of the first compositions to mix live instruments with prerecorded material.  He was an electronic pioneer, using synthesizers long before other people were interested in them. Of course, the concept of electronic music did not begin with him.  Pierre Henri Marie Schaeffer must have had an enormous influence on Stockhausen's electronic output.



Pierre Henri Marie Schaeffer


Did the "Licht" series of operas 'out do' Wagner? Did they determine the future of opera?  I don't think so.  They are highly unique art-works and they are unlikely to be a platform of inspiration because of their individuality.  Some composers have tried to write longer works but I do not believe it will become the trend.

So what is Stockhausen's legacy?  Well, he is not always the first composer to initiate a new direction in modern music but he is the main figure in establishing most of the key trends.  What he achieved with modern music, Beethoven accomplished with the symphony -  set the highest standards for future composers.

Modern Orchestral Music

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

La Mort Des Artistes

La Mort Des Artistes - Ian Moore



This work is the centre piece of a trilogy which is yet to be completed.  Written at a time when I was heavily influenced by the music of Pierre Boulez,  the titles of three compositions are reminiscent of 'Le Marteau sans Maitre'; the centre piece is a solo song based on the surrealist poem by Charles Baudelaire and it is framed by a prelude "Avant..." for solo clarinet and pre-recorded material and a postlude "Apres..." for mixed ensemble.  Unfortunately, "Avant  La Mort Des Artistes" has yet to be completed.  The technology and the opportunity in terms of orchestral resources are only now available to me. I believe that I will finish the piece soon.

Out of all of my music as a young composer, I would say this work is one of the most important. This is because it closely defines the method of working for the following years and it even influences the way that I work today. The poem is at the heart of the trilogy and also the music. In this composition, I have deconstructed the language of the poem and then reconstructed everything in music.  In a way, the composition is closer to a poem than a song. The rise and fall of the song is intended to imitate the intonation of the voice reading the poem.

For example, if we have a look at the opening phrase.
Combien faut-il de fois secouer mes grelots
The words are turned into "vowel formant".  This means that the vowels are analysed and categorised according to their vocal position.



A primary fundamental is calculated and then intervals are derived from the fundamental.


Each group of the secondary fundamentals correspond to a group of the underlying structure.  Now the proportions of the vowel formant can be used to generate pitches for the relative structure:


Each proportion from the vowel formant represents a pitch (an interval generated from the secondary fundamental).  Therefore, each pitch represents a syllable of the poem. They are all linked together by the secondary fundamental.


The rhythm is calculated in a similar way.

There is considerably more to explain about the process that generates the source material for the music, especially in terms of timbre.  But I prefer people to listen to the music and come up with their own ideas rather than be burdened with the mechanics of how it is created. 


La Mort Des Artistes (complete) - Ian Moore.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Publicly funded arts bolster the UK economy





A newspaper report(Guardian) has revealed startling information about arts funding.  It says that
spending public money on the arts was crucial, “not just for the good of society, but to nurture some of the best talent for our creative industries”.
 “There is nothing ‘nice to have’ about the arts and the creative industries, there is nothing tangential, nothing ‘soft’. They are central to our economy, our public life and our nation’s health.”
It reveals a surprising figure;
For every pound invested in arts and culture, an additional £1.06 is generated in the economy
The reports also include some striking statistics. For example:
 Arts and culture is worth £7.7bn in gross value added to the British economy – an increase of 35.8% between 2010 and 2013.
 More than one in 12 UK jobs are in the creative economy, with employment increasing 5% between 2013 and 2014, compared with a 2.1% jobs increase in the wider economy.
 Britain invests a smaller percentage, 0.3%, of its total GDP on arts and culture than other countries. Germany invests 0.4%, the EU as a whole 0.5%, Denmark 0.7% and France 0.8%.
In other words, when the government invests in art projects, it creates subsidiary jobs. E.g. If a new work is commissioned from a composer, jobs further down the line are created: the musicians who perform the new work; the staffing of the venue, catering  etc.... The report assesses that it is worth an extra 6%(of the grant given) to the economy. It makes sense when you think about it.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Does dissonant music strike the wrong chord in the brain?





I am writing this post to address the comments made in this article:

"Why dissonant music strikes the wrong chord in the brain."

The article reminds me of an investigation conducted by Plomp and Levelt on Tonal Consonance and the 'Critical Band Width Theory'. It explored the possibility that there is a natural human dislike of dissonance. Unfortunately, the experiment used 'sine' wave tones instead of real musical sounds which made the whole investigation 'void' in my eyes. Overtones experienced in 'real' music are rather different than those encountered in a science lab. The term "dissonant" presents another stumbling block as well. People from different cultures have a different concept about what is "dissonant" or what is "tonal". Confusingly, Plomp and Levelt use the same terms to indicate a completely different concept; in their case, it refers to a kind of tonal disturbance and not to the academic understanding of the term of a particular type of musical interval which has developed over centuries.

In my opinion, it is not dissonance that strikes the wrong chord in the brain it is our own preconceptions that limit our acceptance to particular sounds. Plomp and Levelt's investigations achieved nothing because they failed to recognise the difference between sound and music. The ear may not like particular sounds in certain combinations but the same sounds in musical context is a whole different matter. Music is something which is not perceived scientifically; it is a work of art. Composers are closer to artists rather than scientists. It is meant to delve much more deeply than a simple psychological response. It is the equivalent of determining the reaction to a play by working out which words your audience like or dislike from a list; completely disregarding its context. That would be preposterous.

I think psychologists have got it the wrong way around.  


It has often been suggested that humans have innate preferences for consonance over dissonance, leading some to conclude that music in which dissonance features prominently is violating a natural law and is bound to sound bad.

"Dissonant" is the term that we have invented for a musical sound we don't like, according to our culture, upbringing, and musical training. In essence, dissonance is not a simple concept. It means different things to different people. It could almost be considered a point of view. All music contains some form of dissonance and yet our brain doesn't reject it. We understand it as being part of the musical narrative. Just like the discord in a piece of drama, it is essential to the overall impact of the art-work. In different parts of the world, people have a tolerance to dissonance which is at variance with our perception of music.  
As Schoenberg said


...dissonance is merely a matter of convention, and that we can learn to love it.

The most crucial part of the statement is that you have to want to "learn to love it". Without that desire to explore an unknown sound world, the mind disregards unfamiliar sounds as being 'dissonant'.  To answer the question "does dissonant music strike the wrong chord in the mind", no it does not; as long as the listener has an open mind.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Sketch for orchestra


Sketch for orchestra is a short extract of a recent composition called "Narcissistic".  The original work began a few years ago.  

Narcissistic (I) - revised version with percussion.


It marks a significant change in the direction of my music.  Until recently, I have been writing chamber music (including a lot of solo instrumental pieces). Now, I have decided to mainly write for orchestra. This is a challenging decision because the economic situation at the moment means that it is incredibly difficult to get orchestral music performed. I already have two pieces of music that has yet to be performed, ("Transcience" and "La Cloche Felee") and they are nearly twenty years old. The thought of writing more music that is never played is an unwelcome one.

The transition hasn't been easy either. Writing chamber music means you have the freedom to compose anything you want but with orchestral music many factors need to be taken into account. Complexity has to be crafted in a very careful way; making sure that the orchestra is able to succumb difficulties.  I admire Ferneyhough's artistic work but his orchestral pieces, as adventurous as they are, are more like an extremely large chamber works - the concept of an orchestra rarely features (but this is probably exactly what he wants).  It is fascinating that he has written so few full orchestral works. I think James Dillon has the edge where orchestral music is concerned.  Juggling the conflicting aspects of being adventurous, playable and orchestral is extremely difficult.  

'Narcissistic (I)' took an unusually long time to write.  It was the best part of a year from start to finish.  It is my first completed orchestral work.  Whereas 'Sketch for Orchestra', which will become the second piece in the "Narcissistic" series, only took three days to write and that is closer to my thinking process. 

'Sketch' comprises of a simple 'theme'.  The opening (a group of demisemiquavers tied to a long note) theme in strings generates the thematic material throughout the entire composition.  There is constant interplay between the woodwind theme and the brass and the strings.  





Because of financial concerns, modern music is predominantly composed for small groups of instruments.  This has had two major effects.  Composers have been able to write with complete freedom and audiences have declined but are more discerning.  In an unintentional way, this has led to a more isolated environment which perpetuates the myth that modern music is elitist and esoteric. If you look at the composers who have attracted the greater share of the audience of modern music  (Stockhausen, Xenakis and Ligeti) you will notice that they have a substantial body of orchestral music in their repertoire. In my opinion, orchestral music is the future of twenty-first century music.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Upcycling - Boulez's 'Notation' and BBC Symphony Orchestra.

I was fortunate enough to attend last nights concert at the Barbican - the BBC Symphony Orchestra performing 'Notation' and 'Pli Selon Pli'.  Interestingly, both works are considerably old.  'Pi Selon Pli' was written at the end of the 1950s and 'Notation' was completed in piano form just at the end of the Second World War, pre Boulezian serialism.  Its present manifestation (for orchestra) begun in 1978 and was then reworked in 1984 and 1987.  "Pli Selon Pli" is over 50 years old.  In historical terms, it is halfway to being officially recognised as an antique.  "Notation" has been 'recycled'; it begun as a piano work and has been transformed into a modern orchestral work. In a modern terms, we would refer to this kind of recycling as something which has been "upcycled"; that's where recycled...

... old products are given more value, not less.
(- Reiner Pilz)





Imagine an item of furniture, at the end of the war, which has been loving restored; redecorated and totally invigorated with modern structural considerations .  This is the effect of Boulez's 'upcycling'.  There is, however, a downside to this idea.  The notion of 'upcycling' appears to be ultimately flawed:


Boulez is celebrating his ninetieth birthday.  At some point, it will not be possible to update this work.  As far as I know, Boulez has effectively stopped composing new music.  The desire to constantly modernise old compositions is doomed. When this happens, what will be the effect on the music? Will it sound dated; consigned to a moment in history, like the electronic sounds of Stockhausen's Gesang der Junglinge"? I don't think so. Varesse's "Hyperprism" is nearly a hundred years old and it still has a edge to it - not the same 'upcycled' vitality of Boulez's "Notation' but an edge nonetheless. In my opinion, I don't believe that there is any real need for "upcyclng" - not unless something completely new is revealed; like an unexplored meaning born of our age.  The real secret for creating musical freshness is ingrained in the performance. A new performance can reveal something really fascinating about our era (so long as it stays true to the principles inherent in the composition).  With orchestral music, having a conductor that is sensitive to the score and creative enough to lead players into a new perspective of the music is essential.  The BBC Symphony orchestra's performance would have been something that Boulez may have approved.  It was honest and precise. It allowed the music to entertain rather than impose an interpretation that would interfere with the communicative process. One of the most important aspects of Boulez's creative life is that he has been his musical restoration.  The pealing back of nineteenth century layers.   Removing the musical cliches that we have become accustom to.

I do realise there is an apparent contradiction. On one hand, Boulez wants to create a language which is completely new and on the other hand he wants to 'upcycle' old material. This whole notion needs further consideration...What if I 'upcycled' Brahms? Does that create a new piece of music full of inventiveness and vigor?  Isn't 'upcycling' a longing for the past which is one of the most significant elements of Romanticism - a concept that he has spent his life escaping from?

All these concerns are academic.  His popularity has risen which often comes with age.  Although there will always be people who doubt his judgement, longevity as a composer has boosted his support.  His concerts this year have been well attended.  It shows the rightful respect for a great composer.  But he should beware.  By his own words...

Revolutions are celebrated when they are no longer dangerous.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

What is populism?

This can be described as music for the
"‘the masses’ (through reference to ‘their’ folk-music genres) ... topical social and political ideologies, chiefly nationalism and later, at the start of the twentieth century, evolutionism, which influenced the composers’ selection of folk-music themes for their ... [compositions]. " by Rhoda Dullea

The Pulitzer Prize



This is a prize that I can never see myself winning.

The first obstacle is that I am not American.  I admire a lot of American music and a few of my British heroes have spent a long time in America building their career. Neither am I closely linked to music in the U.S.A. This is not a problem; every region has its own prestigious prize intended for their own countrymen and women.

There certain expectations expected from a Pulitzer prize winner.
Last year, it was John Adams forty minute orchestral work based on a single note group, "Become Ocean".  The year before, it was Partita for 8 Voices by Caroline Shaw a mixture of vocal exploration and repetitive music. And so on..you probably get the picture; you have to be in the America circle of composers and writing some form of repetitive music. I don't fit the bill...never mind. 

But are you happy with this? Do you think that it should perhaps be more open, more varied? 

Friday, 16 January 2015

Apres La Mort des Artistes

"Apres La Mort des Artistes" was written in 1996 and is the last in a series of pieces entitled "La Mort des Artistes".  It is performed by the Ensemble Exposé and is conducted by Roger Redgate.



Thursday, 1 January 2015

Working for next to nothing...

One of the most frustrating aspects of working in the serious art music business is the notion that a lot of work that you do should be done for free. This is born out by the ever dwindling pot of money which is designated for commissioning new compositions.   Over the last few years, it has become noticeable that the amount of money spent on commissioning music is becoming more scarce. A commissioning report instigated by Sound and Music organisation (2013-14) stated that commissions are not a significant source of income for composers:
66% of composers stated that they do not find commissions to be a significant proportion of their income. Given that the respondents had an average of 2.65 commissions in 2013 with an average fee per commission of £1,392 it is easy to see why.
They believe that conditions are getting worse:

49% of composers feel that there is less rehearsal/preparation time for new works. 
Although there are more commissions, the amount of money composers receive appears to be less.
74% of composers received the same amount or more commissions in 2013 than in 2012 but only 15% earned more income. We also discovered that those who had been undertaking commissions for more than five years were likely to get more commissions but get paid less per commission.
The ISM report appears to support this view.  In 2011, it published these results to a survey of composition commission rates:




                  Average             Responses
Choral (accompanied) 3,753 54
Choral (unaccompanied) 2,473 45
Choral (with orchestra) 12,119 21
Orchestra (symphony) 8,458 48
Orchestra (with soloists) 9,215 30
Orchestra (chamber) 6,352 44
Ensembles (large chamber) 4,974 45
Ensembles (small) 2,886 49
Ensembles (symphonic wind) 3,440 15
Duo 1,968 40
Solo 2,200 43
Brass band 2,810 14
Jazz orchestra 3,875 4
Jazz big band 3,667 6
Stage works 13,549 38
Electronica A 11,245 9
Electronica B 5,062 9
Electronica C 30,500 2

Although it is difficult to compare across slightly different fields of work, it can clearly be seen that all of the average commissions for 2011 are well above the average of £1,392 reported by the Sound and Music survey in 2013.  In fact the overall average, for 2011 according to ISM  is £7142.  The conclusion is clear; the amount of money spent on commissioning music is being reduced while the number of commissions are increasing.   Therefore, composers are going to have to work a lot harder for the same money. If this trend continues, it won't be long before they will be expected to work for next to nothing.









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