This area is dedicated to music composed in support of The Rights of Living Things, and The Rights of Sentient Beings, a unified declaration of ten ethical principles. I am currently working on the final piece that will complete the suite of short works that support each article.
Music reaches a diverse audience, and we connect with music very differently than to written text. Music encourages me to consider rights from an emotional, non-rational perspective, it wakens me to feeling as well as thought. In my experience, ideas only result in action when they impact on both the head and heart.
You are welcome to share your views about the music:Comment on The Rights of Living Things
Life extends from organic to partially-organic and non-organic beings who are sentient.
Sound Designs, Strings, Brass, Percussion, Solo Piano and Duduk.
Defining life and how I act towards it challenges my sense of human self-importance.
Music is sometimes more easily accepted than an idea. When I hear disparate sounds and rhythms forming an unlikely cohesive whole, I am more willing to also consider revisiting my long-held assumptions.
A driving pulse permeates traditional, orchestral, and designed elements. Rhythms play in sympathy and syncopation. A sea of strings ebbs, flows, and shakes. As the music draws its breath at its center, a percussive piano weaves up and down in search of the Duduk, an ancient and beautiful Armenian double-reed instrument made of apricot wood that joins and sings soulfully with the ebullient ever present palpitation of life.
All living beings have the right to exist so long as they do not imperil the existence of another.
Strings, Brass, Piano, Trumpet, Oboe, Bassoon, Gran Casa, and Sound Designs.
Coexistence may be with nature, a person, living things, family, a group, communities, and nations.
I may choose to coexist with a person or others, or I may find myself coexisting through no choice: by birth, family, play, work, or cultural and national circumstance.
Coexisting peacefully does not require I coexist harmoniously. I may rail against those I coexist with, I may oppose their views and actions, peacefully. I may object with all my strength to their assertions and assumptions, peacefully. Coexisting peacefully is not being in a state of weakness, naivety, or subjection. Coexisting requires I make every effort to engage with those I choose or find myself with, peacefully.
A living being has the right to defend and protect itself with a proportionate response when in imminent risk, but not to carry out a preemptive attack.
For Strings, Woodwinds, Brass, Solo Cello and Piano.
The music Fragile Earth was composed in support of The Right of Self Protection. I consider whether this right could reasonably extend to defending and protecting the earth against the grave risk humans cause to the environment and countless living species.
Asserting my right of self protection is linked with my judgement of how serious and impending the threat. At what point does my failure to act cause irreparable harm to life? Is supporting the conservation movement one in the same as my right to self protection?
Defending my right to self protection is not confined solely to the physical realm. I can also seek to persuade others of the importance of my rights with those things I say and make. My effort with Fragile Earth is to cause pause and encourage the consideration of the scope of rights and their mutual advantage.
All life has the right to be regarded as important and potentially beneficial.
The Wren in Winter
For Piano, Strings, Oboe D'Amore, Bassoon, Piccolo, Trumpet, Woodwind section, and French Horns.
The wren is a tiny bird and frequent visitor to my garden. As a child, my favourite coin was the farthing that featured a beautiful depiction of a wren on one side. That it was the lowest unit of currency that ceased to be used in the year of my birth made it all the more valuable.
I rarely use explicit representation in my art and music, however the idea of what it is to value something is so abstract and personal, I thought it helpful when supporting this principle.
Look left from oak to right of beech,
Glance up to slumbered canapy,
A ball of rufous mottled feathers fills with crisp cold air,
You beauty of the frozen mist and frosted whitened wood,
Sing loud, sing long with spirit full your silken rare and rippled song.
Living beings have the right to act, communicate, or think as they wish as long as they do not harm other living things, or place them in imminent danger.
For Strings and Piano.
Freedom: the ability to act, change, communicate, or think without hindrance.
Freedom is aligned with liberty (physical, psychological, spiritual, religious, social, political, and economic), autonomy (informed, uninhibited decision), and free will (the ability to choose between different courses of actions).
Although music cannot explicitly convey meaning, it can serve as a trigger to thought and feeling. The name and context of this music serves to expand its spell.
My view is that freedom is a quality of experience, and in this it is dynamic and different at any given time, and for every living thing.
A sentient being has the right to give and receive love.
Without Reason I Will Love
For Violin, Piano, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, English Horn, Boroque Bassoon, and Strings.
Love has no reason save itself
Save: other than, but, except. To keep safe or rescue from harm or danger. To store for future use.
As love is many things to people and takes many forms, it is perhaps helpful to express my understanding:
Love: powerful, positive feelings and actions towards another, or others. More than attraction or desire. The foundation of a life well lived.
With this in mind, The Right to Love is not confined to personal and romantic love, but applies more widely to the right to feel and act with love.
A sentient being has the right to give and receive compassion.
For Solo Viola, Piano, and Strings.
Compassion: 'to love together'. Feeling and concern for the misfortune of another; kindness that follows from need or distress born from a sense of interdependence and fairness.
My capacity to feel aligned with another's suffering is a tool that motivates me to act and change.
The differences in compositional style reflect the importance I place of compassion in any period or place. The viola is the focus of my attention, the subject of my compassion. The piano represents my response to that which is in need of compassion. At times the viola and piano are in harmony, and at others they are dissonant. There is however always a willingness to be with. Before the pensive closure the viola and piano wrap one another with their rich and relaxed harmony and movement, a moment that shows compassion as an active and constructive quality of the heart.
The ending of the piece, while not a point of resolution, is for me a moment of relative peace as compared with the emotional intensity that characterizes much of the work.
All sentient beings have the right to receive ethical treatment through acts of empathy, tolerance and respect. The manner in which sentient beings honor one another must recognize the privacy of body, home, thoughts, feelings and identity.
For Chamber Orchestra: Strings, Woodwind, Brass, and Piano.
Dignity is a challenging principle to uphold. Three qualities help me recognize its presence:
Honesty ~ free of deceit; a sincere search or presentation of truth.
Respect ~ acts or attitudes of concern for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others.
Honour ~ to recognize or consistently hold qualities of respect and honesty.
As I listen, the restrained yet persistent character of the music reminds me of those with quiet dignity, and the immense value of its giving and receiving.
Whether supported or undermined, recognized or ignored, the level of my dignity is at the centre of who I am and will become.
A sentient being has the right to explore its creativity, nurture its potential, and to benefit equally from cultural, scientific, and practical achievements.
For Piano, Strings, Woodwind, and Tuned Percussion.
I consider breath beyond a single entity. Its rise and fall. On earth, multiple living things breathe each moment. Some slowly, others in the blink of an eye.
At its start the piano plays short chordal rhythmic phrases presented in a relaxed style as counterpoint to longer trailing textures and melodic trails produced by string and woodwind instruments. The piano goes on to play more insistent, accented chords against the backdrop of a thin bed of strings. A marimba takes up the piano's journey of repeating patterns of sound as solo instruments thread above its hollow tones. In closing the marimba hands over to its higher cousin, the xylophone, which accompanies the strong tuneful motion of the cello and lush translucent strings. The piece ends as if in mid-breath.
When spoken in isolation the word breathe is a call to action, an appeal to live.
The care to think of another's breath eases my own.