The Composition of Barry Cockcroft
Composition has always been an integral part of my musical life. Three years after I began learning an instrument, I was composing. As a musician I make no distinction between performing, composition and improvisation. For me they are all one and the same. I seek the successful integration of these processes.
I usually compose at an instrument and this goes along way to explaining why I have written predominantly for saxophone. I take my inspiration primarily from real life events often which have been humorous. As my Australian saxophone teacher Peter Clinch once told me, ‘if you can’t play fast – play funny!’ I like that audiences don’t know anymore if it is okay to laugh. My composition tends to be influenced by the music that I am playing at the time and often I will include musical elements from these pieces.
I would prefer to improvise a new piece than to sit down and write one. Often my compositions are based on improvisations that I have continued to play and once they stop changing, the piece is complete.
I love new ideas. I like extending instruments to explore their idiomatic qualities. Everything must have a context, a purpose and a musical function. I will never use an effect for the effects sake. The audience comes first in my motivation and they must leave a performance of my music fulfilled after hearing something new within the context of something they already know. I like taking an audience from the known to the unknown, without them realising they are on a journey of discovery.
Ultimately I believe that music is written to be performed and heard. The relationship between performer and composer can be paramount to the success of both artists. When an audience hear good music played well, everyone wins.