As a child I lived on the beachfront in Ruby Bay, back then a remote country settlement at the top of the South Island of New Zealand. My parents listened to classical records; my younger sister and I sat in the dining room with our ears glued to the radio, listening to the Hit Parades.
We loved Rock ‘n Roll and my main memories of it are the incredible melodies. I used to sing them to myself, whistle them and in later years dance and party to them. I can still remember the words and musical details of many of them. Not just Bill Haley and Elvis Presley through to The Beatles, but many more that are now virtually forgotten, and who in their time were as popular as many of today’s stars.
Over many years, after the Beatles era, I became increasingly bored with popular music. There were either endless repeats of past recordings, or “music” which sounded like it had been composed by a computer; it had no soul. There was good rock music out there but it was not promoted. You had to seek it out.
I now have a preference for classical music and my partner Barbara and I go to numerous concerts and recitals. We (and most of our friends) enjoy the older classics, because the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi and their contemporaries contains so many memorable melodies. It is not the age of the music, or the name of the composer that counts. It is the pleasure you get from listening to it. The trouble is that the closer you get to the 21st century the fewer the melodies and the more experimental the music. There are notable exceptions of course! Jean Sibelius for one. But even he died over 50 years ago.
I believe that many supporters of classical music would welcome the reintroduction of strong melodic lines into contemporary composition. I believe too that if we can make contemporary classical music more melodic and accessible we will attract a far wider audience base. This is what I aspire to. However I do so in the knowledge that I have set myself a hugely challenging task (a friend recently described it as “tilting at windmills”!), and that the public will be my judge. Not the critics, or academics, or other composers, or close friends, but people who will pay money to listen to my music. Am I guilty of commercialism? No. I would find it extremely difficult to compose music I did not like. Am I on the right track? The public will decide.
I now live at Port Waikato, a beautiful settlement at the mouth of the Waikato River on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. This place would inspire anyone to compose!
©2009 Andrew DuFresne