Interview with Frank Nuyts
We would like to introduce you to the Belgian composer Frank Nuyts. Frank is one of the most renowned composers in Belgium and has written an extensive oeuvre including 5 symphonies, 18 piano sonatas and a lot of chamber music with the piano in the central role. The piano sonatas in particular are all works of art and an asset to the piano literature.
Frank studied chamber music, percussion and composition at the Royal in Ghent. Frank writes, as he himself says, in a "complex simplicity". His musical textures are clear but without shying away from 20th century expressionism. With harmonies again based on tri-tonic relationships. In short, an extremely original, transparent and honest sound in the classical music world. We asked Frank some questions.
Your composers career begins with Lucien Goethals' invitation to study composition with him. Goethals is known as an innovator in the field of composition. What was it like and to what extent did his vision on composing determine your current style?
It is true that during my conservatory studies I was not at all attracted to the "Belgian neo-classical school" of composing. I was young, and I couldn't find myself in a style that refered to a world I didn't want to have anything to do with. Certainly, because I already felt then that "they" misunderstood Stravinsky’s so-called neo-classicalism: you do not make "classical forms" with a style based on a modernist form of montage.
When I quite accidentally heard an electronic piece by Lucien Goethals on classical radio, I was immediately sold. Immediately went to the IPEM in Ghent, climbed to the top floor where Lucien usually sat composing, and presented him my previously written pieces. Lucien was not impressed. Actually, blamed me for what I blamed the composition teachers at the conservatory. And immediately drew me into Webern's camp, an influence that - although one might not think and or hear so immediately - continues to this day. And with Lucien I immediately learned a way to consider blocks of time as the first work material. Not notes, or "themes", but a way to generate permutations of pieces of time (varying in length according to Fibonacci sequences), and only then start thinking about what might belong in them. When I later started reading Cage's books, this method has increasingly refined, until now actually, although I now deal with it much more intuitively.
You started with percussion and chamber music. To what extent has this training influenced composing for piano and your writing style?
Here, too, the influence of Goethals and the great modernists of my youth can be discerned. The insight that rhythm was NOT an ostinato. That rhythm is mainly pieces of music, of unequal length and spread over time. And that you don't have to hear barlines. After ten years of composing post-serial I - and Ligeti who then did the same thing, although I didn't know this at the time - started looking for other ways to free the rhythm from too strict meters. And strangely enough, I actually ended up at both The Police with their virtuoso "white reggae" and Schumann, with shifting the heavy count in the most unlikely places. Lucien was actually not happy with that evolution. Although the short piece "Rastapasta" meant for me the start of my "own" path: A title that says it all.
How does a new work take shape in your hands? Do you start with some kind of roadmap?
I cannot compose a work before having devised a concept around the questions that a new composition entails. It is as if I have to build a relay system in my head through which all my ideas for the work to be composed, have to pass. Which means that I cannot use old sketches for a new work.
In that sense, my "method" is more like the quest of plastic artists who do "research" into what exactly can characterize the new work to be made.
I often also use non-musical sources, which is why I always told my composition students that you cannot compose new music without filling yourself with books day in, day out - fiction and non-fiction, theater, film, essays, basically everything what life has to offer. In that deluge of information, you then begin to search for that which begins to resonate with that indeterminate desire that began to arise in you. With that you start to design "rules" for yourself that should guide and, above all, limit your inspiration. And paradoxically, once you are sufficiently constrained, you can only then feel free.
You have written a lot of work for piano and your sonatas in particular are really a "labor of love" project. You have consciously chosen this "classic" shape. Does prescribing rules for yourself also give you new possibilities for creativity?
I have indeed written a lot for piano, but this is only a small part of the entire output. The sonatas project started after I temporarily stopped the Hardscore project. Hardscore had been a quest to give that "new style" its own sound. What was implicit in my classical works was made explicit: grooves and drums and synths and Zappaesk percussion were not shunned in this. When it turned out that in times of crossover a real crossover band in Belgium could not find a market, despite the fact that we made five CDs anyway, I decided to get back to "classical" composing.
And this was the start of the sonatas project. I had already written one in 1991, but now it started for real. Immediately with a kind of meta-sonata: 2-3-4 together form one large sonata, a piece of music that lasts almost an hour and a half. I discovered that there are many pianists walking around with a great appetite for new piano music. And also want to invest a lot of time (sometimes even years!). As a result of which I could indulge in the most insane formals and rhythmic experiments, although all still fitting in a reasonably post-tonal idiom, with the influence of the insights gained in Hardscore. Each sonata has a subtitle, which unemphatically suggests where I got my inspiration for that specific work. If you look at the last six sonatas (19-24), you notice that they differ greatly in format. They are therefore composed for very specific personalities. I thank and admire all of them. If more such pianists were to roam our tormented planet, I would almost see a long future for humankind!
How do you prevent that as a teacher of composition at the conservatory of Ghent you steer someone too much in a certain direction instead of stimulating someone's personal creativity?
By looking at their personality. By gauging their true desire, however early it may be. And breaking open that desire, by stimulating them to listen to the still unhatched, the unknown, the unsuspected. To explain to them that all those "strange" things that composers have done in the past (starting with Pirotinus) were also prompted by THEIR confrontation with the inability of the then tradition to realize their desire. And by pointing out that composing is not only about notes. That living, studying and working continuously is the only option to ever feel like a bit of a composer. Although doubt will NEVER go away. In fact, it is inherent in the craft of any true creative.
What do you recommend to a beginning composer?
Keep your ears and eyes open. Study what is necessary, lifelong, but not blindly and a priori: do not see tradition as the only point of reference, because each -ism is the result of an individual need of a predecessor. To put it in a quirky way: every -ism is also implies a conservatism. And work, work, work: 24/7, 12/365, but not immediately on paper or piano or screen. Inexorably sharpen your mind. Continuously expand your reference system. And be damn glad that the proteins that break open in your cortex prevent you from ever getting bored for another day.
How do you keep developing yourself as a composer?
By always going on. I found myself in 1985/86 and see all my works as points on a continuous curve for 36 years now. Where I drove myself into the bushes a few times. Where I quite often have encountered a certain incomprehension (is my music of a complex simplicity, or is it simply complex? Is that tonal-sounding idiom a mockery for the work that is now happening on sound transformations? Isn't that reference to Zappa terribly out of date? Why did I necessarily want to make people's toes move up and down in a classical concert hall? And so on and so on?).
We now live in times where freedom is severely restricted physically. This has led to an explosion of works for me in the last year, both for my new band ‘Beat Love Oracle’, in which I feel for the first time that I am writing a kind of repertoire for a future generation (which even now is, fair is fair) of non-classical musicians, looking for challenges that cannot be addressed in the commercial music landscape. A repertoire that I can actually write down. Drum parts noted down to the last detail, and yet they groove nicely despite their idiosyncratic approach.
At the same time, I now write a lot of chamber music. People who organize small concerts and then stream them. Covid-free music: a symphony for two oboes, just to name one example, is the last finished project: 25 minutes of hard work for two musicians. Will I ever hear it? Maybe… If not: it fits my curve described above.
Why did you and your group Hardscore opt for a more accessible writing style that appeals to many people?
I have already explained above that it was never my initial intention to "just" compose more accessible. If you want to make a certain rhythmic complexity comprehandable perceptually, you have to adjust certain parameters (the early expressionists did the same thing, but differently "). As a result, if I came up with note aggregations that appeared to be "more accessible", that is a consequence and not a choice. It's what happens to it that makes a piece. And I must honestly say that I have had to experience that the music of Hardscore actually met even more resistance than my so-called classic works. I started up Hardscore again in 2013 for a large project entitled Carbon Fixation. Made another 600-page score, both notes and lyrics. It all rehearsed with the eight top musicians. Conceived an accompanying film. And finally, after three years of intensive rehearsals, being able to perform it TWICE live. With beautiful musicians? Accessible? Not for concert promoters anyway. But I continue and do not look back.
‘Beat Love Oracle’ seems to be a bit more successful now, although we have been rehearsing with that band for 5 years now. But the smaller line-up and the fact that I did not compose a classical singing voice in the whole, perhaps makes it feasible for a slightly larger group of people, more pleasant. We still mainly play on jazz stages, although it is not jazz at all. Although it is all almost even more virtuoso than in Hardscore… Too bad for the musicians of that previous band who gave so much and received so little. Besides my many notes then.
How do you see the future of the musical landscape, will the composer ultimately have the last word? And what is the role of the publisher in this?
In recent years I have felt that there was a huge increase in the number of people who want to compose classical music. Although many young people initially associate "classical composing" with film composition, I can assure you that once you have brought them into contact with Cage's way of thinking about music, many more doors will open in their minds. There is still a lot of work to be done.
A few years ago, I was sitting in the train next to a CEO of a large Paris company. When I opened my laptop to prepare for a rehearsal in Amsterdam, she asked me if I was a musician. More specifically what instrument I played. I answered that I play drums and piano, but that my main activity is composing. And her disarmed question was, "Are not all composers already dead?" "
We also publish here in our small non-profit organization, although the paper score, just like the CD, has almost become an "afterthought". You stream music right? Scores in PDF, you don't have to pay for that, because that costs nothing, does it?
Eventually it will probably become clear to people that having a physical thing in your life turns out to be much more valuable than a code or a digital product, which after some time cannot be opened anyway, or that you have permanently lost due to a crash of your computer (or because of what you can still experience in our current digitized world ...)
I've been collecting scores all my life, which has given me hours of fun and information.
We must of course keep up with the times. But a publisher that comes along and publishes those nice gadgets, he helps the musical world move forward.
I can tell you that all my students now agree with that attitude. That's why I can sometimes get angry at the fact that "big names" in the popular music world (as I recently heard from the frontman of "Coldplay") dare to say that they are so glad they never learned solfège. Because then they would never have been able to create their masterpieces so intuitively.
How could they know that? Seems to me the same as Gwyneth Paltrow who preaches against vaccinations, and thereby plummeted the vaccine against Lyme disease. "Not being plagued with ignorance" is not something to be proud of. So let's say "yes" to publishers. Against people who, like beavers, restore a landscape, often tainted by commercial greed.
Why did you choose to offer your music through the Sonolize platform?
Actually, the answer is contained in the many words above. A digital platform has become indispensable in our world. Making things known and offering them at a reasonable price is a democratic attitude that must be encouraged. Even cheer.
It will probably not be an easy course for Sonolize. The big players mainly aim for self-preservation. You choose the "Great Preservation" of a cultural artifact. And a valuable cultural body of thought. So I can only say a big "thank you" and, above all, wish you discouragement to keep going on a road with many barriers and deep potholes in the road.
Interview with David Dolatowski
David Dolatowski is a classically trained composer with a PhD in Music Composition. His “classical” compositions ranging from intense classical and dramatic pieces to beautiful Native American flute songs include works for orchestra, concert band, mixed and women’s choirs, as well as a wide variety of chamber music. His compositions are played all over the world.
Interview with Timothy Gargiulo
Timothy Gargiulo is a composer, pianist, guitarist, and percussionist with an incredibly expressive musicality. His music comes forth from a forward thinking melodic and textural palette. Some of his musical influences include Frédéric Chopin, Ney Rosauro, John Williams, Toru Takemitsu, Ichika Nito, Bernard Herrmann, and Jacob Collier.
Interview with Nick Norton
As a composer, guitarist, music editor, and sound artist Nick Norton is interested in the colorful grey areas between genres, creating new experiences for listeners, and destroying social barriers to enjoying music. He has written for and collaborated with soloists, chamber ensembles, concert series, and orchestras, and loves making cool noises with synthesizers.
Interview with A. Douglas Biggs
He is a widely experienced and award-winning composer, conductor, performer and artist. His compositions span a wide range of styles and genres and numerous works for orchestra, band, chamber music, chorus, and a growing involvement in video, film and game projects.
Interview with Marc Douyon
Marc Douyon is a pianist, published author, and award-winning composer. He is a member of ‘The Society of Composers’ and the ‘American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers’.
His compositions include works for instrumental, vocal, orchestral, and electronic music and have been recognized and performed in many countries.
Sonolize is growing fast
Sonolize is growing fast, with almost 150 composers and arrangers of 19 different nationalities and new music every week. We would like to thank you for your confidence in us. As together with you we create an international platform where musicians can find a wide range of sheet music and also composers are fairly rewarded for their creations. Read how we like to go the extra mile for our composers...
The Dutch “Day of the composer".
On June 17, 'New Music Now' organizes the second 'Day of the Composer' with her partners. A major event that puts Dutch composers and new music in the spotlight. This year, the New Music NOW Express music train will travel through the country. The longest track of new music ever with over 347 kilometers of music!
Newsletter and summer catalog
Wanna play music yourself this summer? Check our newsletter with a selection of our almost 1500 sheet music compositions for the individual player as well as for orchestras, ensembles and choir.
Interview with Sandro Bucciarelli
Sandro Bucciarelli won several prizes as a saxophone player. He is also in high demand as a teacher, conductor and composer. Sandro is currently working on a big Disney concert with singers from Berlin, Vienna and Cologne and recently finished a great trumpet concerto for one of the leading wind bands in Luxembourg.
Composers Spring Newsletter
Check in our spring newsletter how we like to go the extra mile for our composers with new ideas and options. And interviews with three fantastic composers from Luxembourg, who share their compositions through Sonolize, Tim Kleren, George Sadeler and Sandro Bucciarelli.
Interview with Georges Sadeler
Besides his main job in the Military Band of Luxembourg, Georges Sadeler is well on his way to making himself known as a talented composer by winning a lot of competitions. He also is a sought-after composer who often writes on commission.
Interview with Tim Kleren
Tim Kleren is a very established composer writing in various styles and for a wide array of performers. From youth to professional and from flexible bands to bigbands and wind orchestra’s he is often played around Europe.
Music for Dutch liberation day
Sonolize offers you a wonderful choice of music for your performance on the Dutch liberation day on May 5th, for Concert band, Fanfare band and Brass band.
Musical wishes for 2023
We wish everybody a happy, healthy, joyful, inspiring, creative, peaceful, successful and musical 2023.
Music recordings for composers
In cooperation with our partner Brevis Musica, Sonolize can offer our composers tailor-made sound recordings for individual players and small ensembles.
Winter catalog and news
Check our winter catalog on Sonolize with music for the individual player as well as for orchestras and ensembles
We are proud that Wiecher Mandemaker, artistic director and conductor of Laurens Vocaal, and Hayo Boerema, composer and organ player at Laurensvocaal, choose to offer their choir and organ compositions through the Sonolize platform.
Interview with Ed de Boer
Ed de Boer is an established composer, he wrote three opera’s, three symphonies, two ballets and much more for symphony orchestra, wind band and fanfare band. And Ed is still writing with a lot of passion. In 2017 he was awarded the Dutch BUMA Brass Award for wind music, for his merits in this field.
Check our summer catalog on Sonolize with music for orchestras, ensembles and soloists.
The Dutch “Day of the composer".
On June 18, 2022, 'New Music NOW' will organize the first 'Day of the Composer' in the Netherlands. A major event that puts Dutch composers and new music in the spotlight.
News from our Sonolists
We are very proud that Maurick Reuser, Georges Sadeler and Thom Zigterman all have won prestigious international awards for their latest compositions.
Interview with Nikolaï Clavier
The young and talented Norwegian composer Nikolaï Clavier is an award-winning composer currently living in the Netherlands. He has already composed music for 15 movies, 6 commercials and a video game. And is currently arranging Bartok’s Mikrokosmos for symphony orchestra. We are proud to introduce him to you in this newsle
Maurick Reuser wins two 1st prizes
Pianist and composer Maurick Reuser has won two first prizes in the international composition competition 'The Time of the Guitar'. The competition took place online last month. Maurick received the prizes for the guitar solo work 'From Clouds and First Winds', a duo for clarinet and guitar.
Interview with Geert Jan Kroon
Composer, conductor and musician Geert Jan Kroon is an ambitious person with fresh ideas about music and its world. Recently he achieved a wonderful result with a very positively received work that he wrote for the Dutch Brass Band Championships. We are proud to introduce him to you in this article.
Winter catalog and news
In this newsletter you will find our winter catalogue with a small selection of the music you can find at Sonolize. Also we would like to introduce you to the new Sonolize label 'Our Choice’ which was launched this month. A label that guarantees you as a musician a professional layout for sheetmusic.
Sonolize composers in the spotlight
In recent months, several composers who use Sonolize to publish their work have been in the spotlights. Joop van Dijk and Geert Jan Kroon both received the honorable assignment to write a test piece for the Dutch National Brass Band Championships. And George Sadeler and Alain Crepin won 1st and 2nd prize at the “Internazionale di composizione per Marce, Città di Allumiere”.
Sonolize presents ‘Our Choice’
At Sonolize we like to be transparent in what we offer. And that is quality. But also at Sonolize there are composers who stand out and pay extra attention to their scores. Especially for compositions with such attention there is now 'Our Choice'. A label that guarantees the buyer a professional layout.
Engraving service for composers
It doesn't stop at Sonolize with the introduction of the 'Our Choice' label. Sonolize also offers you the option of having your composition engraved by a professional at a very reasonable rate.
Summer catalog and news
In this newsletter you will find an interview with the Dutch conductor and composer Peter Habraken. We also would like to introduce you to the Sonolize quality label 'Our choice’. And of course, our catalog with a selection of the music you can find at Sonolize.
Interview with Peter Habraken
In this interview Peter Habraken talks about his inspiration and work as a composer, conductor and musician. But also about the future of the music landscape.
WMC opens applications for 2022
Applications for the 19th World Music Contest in 2022 have started. From this moment on, bands can apply for the marching and show contests and the contests for wind bands, fanfare bands, percussion ensembles and brass bands. Registration closes on November 1, 2021.
More music at school
In the days previous to the Dutch Queen Máxima's 50th birthday on 17 May, the Dutch foundation "Meer Muziek in de Klas" (More music education at schools) is calling on all of the Netherlands to make an extra effort in music education at schools.
From piano music to orchestral works.
The great thing about Sonolize is that composers know how to find each other to learn from each other. Tom Schipper, for example, helps the young composer Tae Hyung Ruisch to become even better. Read his blog on how.
Interview with Adriaan Dropsie
We are very excited that Adriaan Dropsie is offering his classical Spanish compositions for guitar and flute through Sonolize. We would like to introduce him to you in this interview.
Webinar by Alex Schillings at Brabant Association
"The search for the main and side issues. A lifelong occupation for a conductor ". That is the title of the webinar that Alex Schillings will be leading on Sunday 24 January at the invitation of the Brabant Association of Music Associations (BBM).
VLAMO aims a composition competition for fanfare
The Flemish music organisation VLAMO is focusing on the brass band for the 2021 Composition Competition. Composers can participate by submitting a new work for the lower divisions before August 31, 2021.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year
We wish all our friends, composers and musicians a beautiful Christmas season and a joyful, inspiring, successful, peaceful, musical and most importantly a happy and healthy 2021.
Drummer & pianist Jeroen Elfferich: "The essence of music lies in simplicity"
Interesting article - in Dutch - about Jeroen Elfferich and his passion for music, written by Thea Derks on Contemporary Classical.
How can I find the copyright holder as an arranger?
If you want to arrange a work from a composer, you will have to ask the copyright holder. But how do you find out who manages the rights of the composer you are looking for?
Check out this autumn's Composers newsletter with tips on applying for rights as arranger, marketing and music uploading.
Interview with Arend Gerds
We are very excited that Arend Gerds offers his own classical compositions for wind music through Sonolize. We would like to introduce him and his passion for composing to you in this interview.
Sonolize in the press
On September 18, DPG media published a nice article about Sonolize in which our passion is aptly expressed.
Groundbreaking initiative Sonolize offers an alternative to traditional publishers of sheet music
Masterclass Composition and Conducting
The School of the Arts in Bern (Switzerland) offers a masterclass Composition and Conducting, specifically for Brass bands.
COVID-19 responses from the music sector
From the Music sector, various actions are taken per country to support music authors and the music sector in general during these difficult times.
Sonolize is growing
We have great ambitions and want to become the place in Europe where composers can offer and sell their sheet music digitally.
Fair practice code
Sonolize endorses the Fair Practice Code for entrepreneurship in the arts and culture sector. It's all about Fair Pay, Fair Share and Fair Chain.
We are proud to anounce that Alex Schillings, Mariska Bogaard-Rethans, Micha Schimmel and Geert van Wijk will take a seat in the Sonolize Advisory Board.
Merry Christmas and let’s celebrate 2020
We wish our friends, composers and musicians a beautiful Christmas season and a happy, healthy, joyful, inspiring, successful, peaceful, musical and truly amazing welcome in the ‘roaring twenties’.
Proudly we present
We are proud to announce that a number of composers have joined us to realize something special together with us.
Sonolize is live
Join Sonolize and start up- and downloading music today. From composers to players, digital, independent, fair and with a wide choice of qualified music.