Exploring the wider similarities between poetry and music to find features that might traverse both artistic disciplines

Grace Mason

The first step of composing any piece of music starts for me with my interaction with an extra-musical source, such as visual art, poetry or literature. The concept behind each of my works is extremely important to me, as this is where my creative process begins. My interest in these sources frequently stems from my personal interaction with them. In my earlier works, the association between the initial source and the resultant music I wrote was formed through a rather uncontrolled and intuitive process. For my PhD research, therefore, I am refining this relationship by exploring the level of influence these sources can have upon my compositions directly as an aid to deriving musical material.

Primarily focusing on poetry as a prosodic resource, I am exploring the wider similarities between poetry and music to find features that might traverse both artistic disciplines and help me develop a more defined system of composition within my work. I have always felt a natural inclination towards composing vocal works because of the inherent text-music relationship involved in singing, but I am also exploring how this connection can be utilised within my instrumental music too. By examining poetic elements in isolation, I am forging myself an alternative approach to text-music relations and refining the process of text application within my music.

Recent and upcoming projects include a commission from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to mark their centenary year, which was written in response to the poem ‘At Night’ by the American poet Sara Teasdale, and a co-commission between the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Proms to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Royal Albert Hall, which was inspired by the artwork of Clare Celeste Börsch, a Berlin-based artist who uses collage techniques to build imagined worlds filled with foliage and fauna.

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If you would like to find out more about this project, please don't hesitate to get in touch:

Grace Mason

Philip Cashian (Supervisor)

Sarah Callis (Supervisor)

David Sawer (Supervisor)