Why did I become a composer?
One of my earliest memories that fueled my desire to create music was a dream. I remember I was surrounded by a sea of instruments. There was very colorful music, and it seemed to swirl. It swirled so much the ground began to shake, and much like Disney’s Fantasia, I found myself on a bit of earth that rose from the instruments until I was very high. I was both scary and exhilarating. When I woke up I couldn’t hold on to that music for long, but it was something I have attempted to recollect probably for years.
I began playing the piano at age 4.5 with the Suzuki method.
Suzuki is very much about listening, then repeating. I think this developed my ears for improvisation. I tell people I began improvising at age 14, but really I was messing around at least by age 10. I would play the same ideas over and over…I don’t know why I wasn’t disowned as a teenager for my rebellious noises…maybe it was ok it was on the piano.
I got interested in jazz. My top five jazz musicians are Bill Evans, Miles, Monk, Herbie Hancock, and Bird. I would listen for hours, and have been playing my own version of avant jazz for decades now. Around 6 years ago I decided to learn how to really play jazz piano. I now think this is impossible, it is only possible to put ideas in your head and learn a few tunes, then see what your fingers will do for you.
I’m very interested in changing how we perceive things.
My top five modern composers are Boulez, Feldman, Mahler, Terry Riley, and narcissistically, Woodward. What composer doesn’t love their own music? I’ve had a love affair with Carter, Xenakis, Ferneyhough, Cage, Babbitt, Reich, Adams, and a host of others. I love electronic music.
I listen to a ton of Tupac and gospel (one could say Tupac is gospel). Sometimes you just gotta unwind, and you can’t do that with Ferneyhough. My dissertation is entitled:
“Stasis in Music and the Formation of Musical States.”
Someone had to write it. At least, I am very interested in how we perceive music, how musical time is perceived as we listen (individually, of course), and how a composer could manipulate the notes, (time and space), to impact the psychological understanding (or misinterpretation) of the music at hand.
A few ideas
- Several ongoing projects have led to the idea of Resonant Composer. One is the concept that we all resonate as frequency beings made up of particles. Several years ago I began researching the idea that abstract sound will influence the human brain in a different way than the structured classical music we all know as the “Mozart effect.” By working with both abstract and structured music, in imaginary “spacial fields” that are both tonal, atonal, and the resulting ‘freetonality,’ the listener is invited to have a particular experience. In fact, it is more of a ‘guided listening adventure.’ Of recent I have been focused on being able to improvise at the piano these ‘listening adventures’ in the jazz idiom, a large-scale recording project I am calling “Project Improv.”
- In 2008 I began a series of “Resonant Fabric” pieces for various instrumentation, in which a solo instrument is echoed by acoustic and/or electronic means, thus creating a fabricated sensation of reverb and delay. The idea that a generated sound (pattern) can be imitated by another sound (echoed pattern) to create a complex environment wherein new sound patterns can be generated and a free exchange of ideas surfaces. These compositions were inspired as an attempt to create perceptual understanding through music the concepts of mathematical group theory, electro-acoustic compositional techniques, and the matrix grid of the Universe. The Resonant Fabric concept was inspired from my work with a previous group of compositions called “biomorphous” pieces. My Album, “States, Space & the Biomorphous Continuum” explores Gérard Grisey’s concept of his own coined term, biomorphous, in which biological elements evolve from one to another (such as heartbeat to breath rate), and this is represented in musical composition. The material in my album follows a free transformation of evolution and cyclic treatment.
Craig Woodward holds a Ph.D. from Rutgers University in Composition & Theory, a Masters in Music from Manhattan School of Music and a B.A. from St. Thomas University in Music and English. His works have been performed in NYC venues such as Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Issue Project Room, Galapagos, Juilliard, St. Bartholomew’s Church, Theater 80, Yamaha Studios, Greenwich Music House, Tenri Cultural Institute, and The Stone, as well as many venues throughout the U.S. He has worked as a composer and artistic advisor with NYC group ArtsXMusic and Mile Square Theater. Craig has over 70 compositions to his name, for a wide range of instrumentations (solo, chamber, vocal, choral, orchestral, electronic). Theater credits (composer): Merry Wives of Windsor, The Triumph of Love, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse , and The Arrogant Kickapod. Dance credits: multiple projects with dancer Monica Gonzalez, and Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Film credits: Warren MacKenzie: The People’s Potter. Craig is also a freelance piano tuner for the last 27 years.