Vermittlung Magazin

Music between emotion and reason

Emily Howard

1979 in Liverpool geboren. Studierte Mathematik und Computerwissenschaften in Oxford. Phd in Komposition am Royal Northern College of Music, wo Sie nun selbst Komposition unterrichtet.

Music that is important to me moves me emotionally and intellectually. I strive to find ways to produce similar qualities in my own music by exploring relationships between emotion and reason, constructivism and spontaneity. Often I use techniques and processes derived from mathematical principles to create musical structures on which to base compositions. Sometimes I reference what I term 'found sound events' (these can be tonal) as part of the compositional process and I am interested in transformations of such events. Memory processes play an important role in the way I structure my music and increasingly, these are subverted and transformed by chance operations. I find inspiration in nature, philosophy, poetry, science and in the history and myths associated with scientific phenomena. In my orchestral work Magnetite, musical material behaves as if shaped by magnetic fields attracting one another and moving in opposite directions, but superstitions concerning the magical powers of the oldest-known magnetic substance were just as important for the creation of the work.


My compositions tend to be linked by fundamental relationships: for example, recent works Mesmerism and Calculus of the Nervous System, while concerned with orchestral writing that stems from the quasi-magnetic technique developed in Magnetite and Solar, are also linked structurally, musically and thematically to Ada sketches, a dramatic scena based on the inner world of mathematician Ada Lovelace, daughter of Byron. Ada dabbled in both mesmerism and magnetism, and she was keen to devise what she termed a ‘calculus of the nervous system’, a mathematical mode for how the brain gives rise to thought, and nerves to feelings.