I need to draw in order to sift and filter ideas about music. During the 1970’s and through the to the late 1980’s, I pursued a parallel career as musician and visual artist. I painted an exhibited in oils and watercolours, but though connected with my music, they were not an integral part of the composition process itself. All that changed when I moved back to the UK after a period of 12 years of living and working in Australia.
Gradually, I developed a ‘new’ way of sketching – what I call drawing towards music. Everywhere I travel, I take sketchbooks with me. These contain pretty-well ‘straight’ drawings from nature; landscapes; seascapes; natural phenomena; wild creatures; the architecture and dynamics of the earth.
But a new kind of sketching was born. These sketches absorb the figurative and begin to play with forms and formalities that transition between visualisation and hearing. These drawings contain signs, images, patterns, forms, words and music! They are ‘maps’ and ‘primers’ for music-in-action and music in reaction. Only after a major series of such sketches has been completed do I begin to compose alone.
Previously thought (by me!) as private, some performances of my music have been accompanied by back-projections from the visual notebooks; even exhibitions at the venue (as artist’s prints). Audiences have invariably commented that these sketches offer new routes into the appreciation of what my music is trying to do. It is not that my music cannot stand alone. But IF my music is to be fully appreciated, then all stages in its creation can or might be enhanced by looking as well as listening to what I do and how I do it!