Nik is currently undertaking a PHD in music 'composition' research at Brunel University, London, under the supervision of Professor Peter Wiegold. In the mid to late 90's he studied composition with Professor's Jonathan Harvey and Martin Butler at Sussex University, and continues to experiment with an eclectic range of compositional styles.
BA (hons) 1st Class, 20th Century Music
(1992-1995), Sussex University
MA, Music (majoring in composition)
(1999), Sussex University
Under the pen-name Sputnik Weazel (Nik's Rock n' Roll alter ego), Nik has written, recorded, produced & released over 200 original songs. He was also a session musician and drummer for folk/punk icons "The Men They Couldn't Hang", and notorious buskers "The Weazels"...
"I often find that having an idea in my head prevents me from doing something else. Working is therefore a way of getting rid of an idea...
To be an artist you have to give up everything, including the desire to be a good artist"
None of the hundreds of Native American First Nation languages have a term for Art (or art music in this context) which is used separately from life & spirituality. Art is about life, about living.
This is not to say that the act of creativity is redundant without an awareness of spirituality (for want of a better term), far from it, the act of creativity itself should be put on a pedestal and worshipped for it's own sake, rather than for the fiscal value that might be arbitrarily attached to it.
Rather than being referentially about spirituality, the act of creating music is (in itself) spiritual.
Although some of the most beautiful pieces of music have been written in honor of a deity, who can say that other forces were not at work. "Spem Im Allium" (Thomas Tallis) springs to mind, it is historically timeless in nature and could have been written yesterday, i.e., an abstraction from the matrix, the Jungian collective imagination... an Autumn Rhythm (Jackson Pollock), a 4' 33' (John Cage), Arnold Schoenberg's dodecaphonic research, and, on various levels, Josef Matthias Hauer's tropes that pre-dated Schoenberg, and along with Debussy & Stravinsky helped to replace tonality as a viable/valid form a century ago. Whereas the surreal has been allowed to permeate and influence dominant (commercial) production in visual art, in aural art, pantonality is still generally consigned to representations of science fiction or connotations of evil, the (so called) demonic; a process, not dissimilar to the suppression of the tritone that allowed tonality to flourish.
In his theoretical writing, Hauer often casts the twelve tempered tones as a kind of spiritual world. For Hauer, "this twelve-tone world offers one access to the fundamental truths of existence, transforming composition from an act of personal expression into one of devotion and contemplation."
"Composition liberates time so that it can be lived, not stockpiled... to compose is to... locate liberation, not in a faraway future, either sacred or material, but in the present, in production and in one's own enjoyment."
(Jacques Attali, Noise - The Political Economy of Music)
My obsession with the dichotomy of Binary opposites can be initially illustrated by the above two quotes, although Attali & Hauer would appear to fundamentally disagree on the sacred/spiritual nature of the act of composition, they both (to a certain extent) describe "tapping into" the musical source, the collective unconsciousness. For Hauer this means utilizing the system, for Atteli it is the act of creation in the moment, the improvisation of the NOW!
Our understanding of all systems is flawed, tempered, tampered with, and no doubt, in the future (unless the capitalist / commercial world retains hegemony & dominance over the availability and distribution of music), micro tonality (down to granulation and beyond) will render all discussions of tonality, post tonality, & 12 tone composition - obsolete (both culturally & intellectually)! For the time being, writing in the 2nd decade of the 21st Century, having lived through 38 years of the 20th Century, my zeitgeist, interest, passion & work is routed in, and informed by, a world that is constantly awakening to future possibilities; with set theories, quantum decoherance, and phenomenology as a guide book, and chromaticism as an encultured (referential) framework.