By Roger Aldridge, 2015-03-04
Whenever people ask me to describe my music I often include the words fun and adventure. These qualities are expressed in how I encourage performers of my music to think of what I have written as being a point of departure, to discover their vision of the music, to experiment with it, and find ways for the music to be a fresh, fun, and adventurous experience each time it is performed.
For that to happen, I usually do not compose music that is completely notated. The amount of music that I notate is on a sliding scale. At one end of the scale are extended pieces like Donut Music and Buzzards In Love which incorporate improvisation within a highly-notated work. At the opposite end of the scale are minimalist pieces like New Tango No. 1 and Smaller Ups And Downs which have a small amount of notated music and use a particular concept for an improvisational framework. These improv-based pieces are dependent upon the performers to bring the music to life. By having a sliding scale of notation, ensembles interested in performing my compositions can choose the pieces that are a match for how much improvisational freedom they want to have in the music.
I understand how music can have different expressive interpretations given to it by directors and performers. However, I want to go beyond that to embrace a spirit of "Let's see where we can go with this". That is, for performances of my music to be a journey of discovery -- a collective creative process between the composer, performers, director (if one is used), and the audience -- in which the music is alive, spontaneous, and it continues to evolve with each performance. I think of this creative process as being like a jazz solo.
I enjoy being surprised when performers take my music in directions that I had not thought of. There is an element of risk with this approach; however, that is part of the fun and adventure.