Marc Yeats: Compositional Processes and Aesthetic

* Marc Yeats is one of Britain’s acclaimed contemporary classical composers and visual artists, specialising in abstract landscape painting. He is also founder and artistic director of the contemporary music ensemble, illegal harmony.

Marc Yeats: Compositional Processes and Aesthetic

by Keith Evans – [ Extract from ‘I Am Nature’ ]

Marc Yeats

Marc Yeats’ compositions extol musical dualism. Though mutually atonal, one expresses tinctured and augmented harmonic shades; the other, in contradistinction, possesses monolithic and atavistic acuity of register, colour and form: Thematic juxtapositions elicit fusions again, embodying a salient approach to structure, hue, timbre and dialectic. Consequently, he engages two notional musical modes that actuate transformations consonant with abstract painting techniques; a synthesis and metamorphosis both subtle and vibrant.

The genesis of Yeats’ music stems from two major influences on the composer. Yeats’ own initial musical experiences delineate nostalgia for the English Pastoral School (exemplified by composers such as Bax, Vaughan Williams and Moeran) casting an acute emotional impression and a diametric opposite; matched by his passion for and fascination with avant-garde expressionism and experimentalism awakened from the 1960s and ’70s.

 Being also an acclaimed landscape painter Marc Yeats’ work with colour, form and texture inform his ideas on musical construction and content.

As his illustrative aptitude intensified he observed: ‘I moved decisively from representational to abstract art. With a rising technical repertoire, so too grew my conviction of creating an individual compositional language by exploring these modes in a musical context. In my compositions both threads are transformed through my “painterly ear” to assimilate and evoke a very personal, natural and unselfconscious outpouring of sound.

…the other side of air

Manuscript detail from the brass quintet” …the other side of air”, 2008 – © Marc Yeats

On first hearing, the music may seem arbitrary, improvisational or even chaotic. This is not the case. Consciously the music doesn’t operate within the logic of number series, motific development, Fibonacci-based proportions, functional harmony, magic squares, tone rows or any of the customary gamete of compositional techniques. Another rationale is operative; a personal logic rooted in “self experience” of the techniques and processes of abstract painting.’

Marc Yeats
Movement towards n° 4
Oil on mounted board
36.22×48.03 inches
© Marc Yeats

The compositional logic within Yeats’ music stems ‘intrinsically from the music itself rather than impacted externality.’ Crucially Yeats reveals, ‘The surface of the music – what is heard – reflects the many routes, systematic and intuitive, that beckon its creation. This surface is the music; its own context, self fulfilling and delighting in the visceral spirit and quality of sound for sounds sake in the same way an artist can relish a particular combination of colours or surfaces as complete in themselves. For me, relationships between musical objects arise from a continual process of assimilation whereby the inherent energies and context of sounds designate and hone the destiny and role that each inhabits and exhibits. Namely, the sum of the parts fashion the resultant work. This is the nature of my music – its sound – and the guiding principle for its realisation.’

Extract from ‘I Am Nature’
© Keith Evans / Marc Yeats

“I am Nature” :

a collection of nine individual pieces exploring the musical reaction of composer Marc Yeats to the visual artwork of the American abstract expressionist painter, Jackson Pollock. The music attempts to convey a sense of the painting’s energy and randomising processes.

Download “I am Nature ” here


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~ by Stampfli & Turci on September 13, 2008.

2 Responses to “Marc Yeats: Compositional Processes and Aesthetic”

  1. […] Continued here: Marc Yeats: Compositional Processes and Aesthetic […]

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