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Biography

I'm a writer, composer, producer and educator, but I'm also a father, son, brother and friend. If we live long enough, we become many different things to many people. I now live in County Wicklow. I teach and train musicians at Colleges across Ireland. So, I'm also an advisor, mentor and facilitator, an entertainer of possibility and a provocateur of excellence. I'm the Director of Blind Alley Productions - a company that creates and develops innovative content for film, television and media. 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, politicians, writers, teachers.

Currently, I'm writing a futurist thriller series entitled: Code. It's a darkly humorous and surreal romp, set around a highly advanced virtual reality game called: A Twist of Fate. Code actually began life as a rock musical, 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 again. Code is an attempt to fuse the energy of pop culture with the resonance of art practice. I think ​Pop becomes irrelevant when it stops searching 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. 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 altering experience, but I also love the craft of songwriting, or the creaky mechanics of experimental sound art. 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 also love the friction that exists between music and words, the intensity of meaning that manifests when words are clothed in sound. At the moment, you can find me playing out with Rituals and Philistines. And, you can find me in Blind Alley Studios. Rituals will release 5 songs throughout the summer of '22.

I'm interested in the spiritual dimension of music, as it exists in traditional forms. From Gnaouan Sufism of North Africa to Javanese Gamelan to the Persian Dastgah, they are all dialects of spiritual expression. I was a founding member of Kyai Jati Roso - The National Concert Hall Gamelan Orchestra. Under the direction of Dr Peter Moran, I learned an array of traditional Javanese forms, as well as composing new music for the orchestra. 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, and how this can shape musicians.

For many years, I scored all my music - making aesthetic choices, developing a compositional language. 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. At the moment, I'm trying to bridge the gap between my understanding of music and my experience of music. Human beings experience music physically, emotionally and intellectually, but no matter how much we come to know, we have to allow ourselves to be seduced by its magic. There's no thought without emotion. The intellect is a fire fuelled by feelings. This is 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 - orchestra, choir, and a variety of hybrid ensembles, mixing 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 the conventional division of performer and audience spaces. It's an ambitious portfolio and many of these works have yet to be performed...

 

I completed my Masters in Composition with Donnacha Dennehy at Trinity College Dublin. Donnacha introduced me to a lot of new music and I created a portfolio of post-minimalist works using various deconstruction techniques. I wrote my dissertation on the creative practices of Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt and Louis Andriessen. They each have something very special to offer the budding composer. I began exploring the actual fabric of music. In Concordia University Montreal, I studied with Dr Rosemary Mountain, Dr Mark Corwin and Professor Andrew Homzy, practicing in contemporary composition and theory and spending a lot of time in the electroacoustic studios.  I'm also 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. I learned a lot and I enjoyed it immensely, but you sacrifice a lot as a musician, so you really 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. Raising children is one of the most challenging and transformative experience in 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 music, 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 lighting rigs, but I sing and play better than ever. And, I mean it - otherwise, what's the point..?

 

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've 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. I've thought a lot about - language and musical meaning, movement and musical metaphor, creativity and the unconscious. As it turns out, meaning doesn't diminish with time, it increases. Life becomes more resonant, more powerful as we approach death. There's no more time for uncertainty. Human nature is a complex ecology - embrace your paradox.

Academic Experience

2017-19

Pg. Certificate - Learning and Teaching

University of Sussex

2007-12

PhD - Spatial Music Composition (Portfolio and Dissertation)

Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen's University Belfast

2003-06

MLitt - Music Composition (Portfolio and Dissertation)

University of Dublin Trinity College

2000-03

BA Hons - Music Theory and Composition (With Distinction)      

Concordia University Montreal

1988-90

Jazz Theory & Performance

Humber College Toronto

1987-1988

Theatre Arts

Ryerson Theatre School

Teaching Experience

2019-22

Voice Coach - Queen's University Belfast

Vocal Technique, Performance and Repertoire

2020-22

Voice Coach - National University of Ireland Maynooth

Vocal Technique, Performance and Repertoire

2016-19

Lecturer/Adjudicator - British and Irish Modern Music Institute

Pop Music History, Music Theory, Cultural Theory, Songwriting

2016-18

Lecturer - Bray Institute of Further Education

Music Performance Skills, Songwriting, Music Theory,

Creative Software Techniques, Creative Arts Research

2015-16

Visiting Lecturer - Institute of Art Design and Technology

Electronic Music Composition

2015-16

Visiting Lecturer - Dun Laoghaire LexIcon Library

Electronic Music Composition

2015-16

Teaching Assistant  - University College Dublin

Music Theory and Musicianship

Professional Experience

2019-22

Lead Vocalist and Keyboardist

Rituals, Philistines

2015-22                      

Writer, Director and Developer  

Blind Alley Productions Limited

                             

2012-18

Composer and Instrumentalist

National Concert Hall Gamelan Orchestra

2010-12

Arranger and Soloist

Bray Gospel Choir

2000-03

Musical Director and Lead Vocalist

N.D.G. Modern Orchestra (Notre Dame de Grace)

1996-00

Writer, Producer and Lead Vocalist

TRUST (The Real Uncut Spiritual Transit)

1989-96

Writer, Producer and Lead Vocalist

Twilight Rituals