Digital Collaborations with Composer James Moriarty

Former Panufnik Composer and current Soundhub Associate James Moriarty has been working with members from our Digital Technology Group in preparation for a special concert at LSO St Luke's on 31 July. Here, he tells us more...

An interest in electronic music has been central to my work as a composer. Electronic genres continue to influence me greatly despite the fact that, for the most part, my work explores the potential of live instrumental performance. My piece Granular Fragments, written for the LSO’s Panufnik Composers Scheme, explored the technique of granular synthesis within the context of a symphony orchestra. Dance-based forms of electronic music have also played a significant part in my development as a composer: the approach to repetition and texture in these musics is one I find continually fascinating.

Composer James Moriarty

It may not surprise you to hear that when I was asked whether I would like to collaborate with members of LSO Discovery’s Digital Technology Group I jumped at the opportunity. Collaborating with young musicians is something I do regularly through my alter-ego as a workshop leader. This project seemed an exciting opportunity to allow a dialogue to take place between these two sides – workshop leader and composer – of my musical persona; not to mention a dialogue with the participants!

I went in with no expectations or plans. The first question I asked of all the participants was ‘how can I help you to do something you might not do otherwise?’. Bouncing off of the participants, who already make such fantastic music, seemed a sensible way to proceed. Suffice to say I was amazed by the sheer variety of different projects that began to emerge; everything from collaborating on an original song to arranging a hip-hop track. 

As the collaborations have developed I’ve continued to fall more in love with all of this music. Getting under the bonnet of these tracks, so to speak, has thrown up all manner of wonderful details for me to work with. For the most part I’m making arrangements of the participants’ work for a small instrumental ensemble. In every instance, however, this allows for a great deal of creative input from myself as I seek to adapt and expand elements of the music. Imagining how this music might be recontextualised within an instrumental context has fuelled many discussions.

What we’re coming up with will, I hope, be really exciting. The music will be full of surprises, pleasant twists and turns, and the occasionally bizarre moment. I’ve been thinking of it as an album and in performance I think the breadth of the different pieces will support one another. An album, however, as yet untitled. Any suggestions appreciated…


James curates an evening of music in collaboration with the LSO St Luke's Digital Technology Group and LSO players on Sunday 31 July.