I'm a musician, writer, composer and educator. I'm also a father, son, brother and friend. If we live long enough, we become many different things to many different people. I live in South County Dublin and I teach and train musicians at Colleges across Ireland. So, I'm also an advisor, mentor, facilitator and adjudicator, an entertainer of possibility and a provocateur of excellence. I'm the Founding Director of Blind Alley Productions - a company that creates and develops innovative content for film, television and media audiences. Musicians are a very flexible species. We have to be. Let's face it; making a living as a 'sound-artist' isn't easy. So, we alter our DNA to become chefs, teachers, politicians, writers.
Currently, I'm writing a sci-fi fantasy series entitled Code. It's a darkly humorous, surreal, futurist thriller set around a highly advanced virtual reality game called: A Twist of Fate. Code actually began life as a rock opera, but as the story evolved, it became so cinematic that I switched mediums and turned it into a screenplay. It's not a massive shift. In many ways, writing dialogue is a lot like writing lyrics. The words exist as sound and their meaning is elicited through their performance. The original music for Code continues to evolve and one day these two conceptual axes may align once more. In Code, I'm trying to fuse the energy of pop culture with the resonance of art. Pop becomes irrelevant when it stops seeking out the liminal boundaries.
I grew up in Canada, playing Rock and Soul music. And, I still compose and perform this music today. The World needs Soul music now more than ever. You can find me playing with The Rituals. We're getting ready to record another album. I love all forms of musical expression, from traditional songs to orchestral scores to acousmatic soundtracks. Everything's on the table. Watching a good orchestra play Stravinsky can be a life changing experience, but I also love the creaky mechanics of experimental sound art or the craft of songwriting. I love the tryst that exists between music and lyrics, the intensity of meaning that manifests when words are clothed in sound. I love the human voice. Its complexity mirrors our experience of the world. It's an evolutionary wonder designed for one purpose: to be understood.
I'm very interested in the spiritual dimension of music, as it exists in traditional forms. From Gnaouan Sufism to Javanese Gamelan to Persian Dastgah, they are all dialects of spiritual expression. I'm a founding member of Kyai Jati Roso - The National Concert Hall Gamelan Orchestra. Under the direction of Dr Peter Moran, we play an array of traditional Javanese forms, as well as composing new music for Gamelan. In 2014, a few of us were fortunate to perform a set of original pieces at the Jogja International Performing Arts Festival in Indonesia. It was an amazing experience. I came to understand how powerfully traditional music is shaped by its environment.
For many years, I scored all my music - making aesthetic choices, developing a compositional language. Organised sound can be a complex and highly conditioned experience. Or, it can be as ephemeral as time itself. I can listen to the wind for hours... Good composers are the inventors and explorers of imaginary landscapes. As Cage said, it's up to the listener to fashion their own meaning. I love the gap between my understanding of music and my experience of music. No matter how much we come to know, we can still be seduced by its magic. Human beings experience music physically, emotionally and intellectually. But, the intellect is like a fire that's fuelled by feelings. There is no thought without emotions. They shape the chemistry that underlies our consciousness.
I completed my PhD in Composition at the Sonic Arts Research Centre of Queen’s University Belfast. Under Professor Piers Hellawell, I composed a portfolio of spatial music scores for a variety of ensembles - including orchestra, divided choir, mixed octet, voices and various hybrid chamber ensembles. I mixed traditional instruments with orchestral instruments, folk song with musical process. All of theses scores incorporate 'space' as a compositional element and this is reflected in the melodic and rhythmic deconstruction of the music. I wanted to place the audience into the path of the music and many strategies are explored for bridging performer and audience spaces. Many of the works have yet to be performed...
I completed my Masters in Composition with Donnacha Dennehy at Trinity College Dublin. He introduced me to a lot of new music and I created a portfolio of cellular post-minimalist works, writing my dissertation on the creative practices of Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt and Louis Andriessen. They each have something special to offer the budding composer. I began using the actual fabric of the music to create material. In Concordia University Montreal, I studied with Dr Rosemary Mountain, Dr Mark Corwin and Professor Andrew Homzy, practicing in Jazz composition and theory and spending a lot of time in electroacoustic studios. I'm a tenor vocalist and during my time in Montreal, I received classical vocal training from the late Professor Winston Purdy at McGill University. I did a lot of classical singing at the time and I enjoyed it. But ultimately, you sacrifice a lot as a musician, so you have to love the music you make.
Before returning to Academia, I was the lead-vocalist and a creative director for TRUST (The Real Uncut Spiritual Transit) and The Twilight Rituals. I've worked with urban-music ensembles in Toronto, London and Montreal. I've produced and appeared on numerous original recordings and I've been fortunate work with some incredible musicians. At one time, I was signed to EMI Music and enjoyed a top 10 hit with The Twilight Rituals - The Top. My popular music has been performed and broadcast in North America, Europe, Russia and Japan.
After finishing my Doctorate, I spent a few years raising my children. I went from diffusing acousmatic music on a 48 speaker array to burping babies and building dens. It was the most challenging and transformative experience of my life, but you'll never see it on a CV... What's with that? When I finally came back into the working world, people were more interested in my rock credentials than my forays into experimental sound. So, I picked up the scent and began the journey again. If you're going to rock at 50, you can't mess around. It has to be mythical. I no longer climb up the lighting rig, but I sing and play better than ever. And, I mean it - otherwise, what's the point. As it turns out, meaning doesn't diminish over time, it increases. Life becomes more meaningful, more resonant, more powerful as death approaches. There's no time for uncertainty. Human nature is a complex ecology - embrace your paradox. Love yourself and those around you.
Over the years, I've exposed myself to many creative conversations and these interests include: songwriting and performance, new music theatre, spatial music composition, ambient soundtrack, found-sounds composition, sound sculpture and installation. In my work, I have explored concepts like: expanded song-form, modular/multi-narrative forms, non-linear and deconstructive practices, musical process, inherent pattern, isorhythm, polyrhythm, polymeter, metric modulation, harmonic composites, harmonic lattice, polymodality and phonetic transcription. In my spare time, I've thought a lot about: language and musical meaning, movement and musical metaphor, sonic textures and auditory streaming, creativity and the unconscious mind and the sonic recontextualization of cultural iconography.
Pg. Certificate - Learning and Teaching
University of Sussex
PhD - Spatial Music Composition (Portfolio and Dissertation)
Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen's University Belfast
MLitt - Music Composition (Portfolio and Dissertation)
University of Dublin Trinity College
BA Hons - Music Theory and Composition (With Distinction)
Concordia University Montreal
One year - Jazz Theory & Performance
Humber College Toronto
One year - Dramatic Arts
Ryerson Theatre School
Voice Coach - Queen's University Belfast
Voice Coach - National University of Ireland Maynooth
Vocal Technique, Performance and Repertoire
Lecturer/Adjudicator - British and Irish Modern Music Institute
Popular Music History, Advanced Theory
Analytical Perspectives, Cultural Theory, Songwriting
Lecturer - Bray Institute of Further Education
Music Performance Skills, Songwriting, Music Theory,
Creative Software Techniques, Creative Arts Research
Visiting Lecturer - Institute of Art Design and Technology
Electronic Music Composition
Visiting Lecturer - Dun Laoghaire LexIcon Library
Electronic Music Composition
Teaching Assistant - University College Dublin
Music Theory and Musicianship
Lead Vocalist and Keyboardist
Founding Director, Writer and Developer
Blind Alley Productions Limited
Composer and Multi-Instrumentalist
The National Concert Hall Gamelan Orchestra
Musical Arranger and Soloist
Bray Gospel Choir
Musical Director and Lead Vocalist
The NDG Modern Orchestra (Notre Dame de Grace)
Writer, Producer and Lead Vocalist
TRUST (The Real Uncut Spiritual Transit)
Writer, Producer and Lead Vocalist
Twilight Rituals - EMI Recording Artists