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Robert PatersonOur third composer profile features another of our favorite artists to work with, Robert Paterson. Our CD will be featuring his piece, Looney Tunes, which is about as fun a piece of music as we’ve ever played.When you get a percussionist/rock drummer as cool as Rob is as a composer you know that his pieces are going to be fun to play, but they’re also very challenging and really make us work– we can’t wait to get cracking on getting this down for the CD. Here’s an excerpt from our premiere of the piece last April, Movement 4: Road Runner:

[audio:http://greatnoiseensemble.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/looney_tunes-4.road_runner-ex.mp3|titles=Robert Paterson: Looney Tunes: IV. Road Runner]

GNE: “What inspired you to become a composer?”

Paterson: “Growing up in Buffalo, NY, I played drum set in rock bands and percussion in various wind ensembles and youth orchestras. My parents also took me to new music concerts. I even took composition lessons in high school, but it wasn’t until college that I began to take composition seriously. I think ultimately it was the thought of sitting in the back of the percussion section of an orchestra and counting all those rests, or rather, not counting them. As much as I completely admire all of the wonderful percussionists who do this for a living, I was very intrigued by what was happening around me, to the point of distraction. I eventually decided that I would much rather write the music that everyone plays rather than play it.”

GNE: “What type, style, or genre of music being created right now (be it classical, pop, country, Broadway, whatever) inspires you or interests you the most? In other words, what artists and composers are speaking to you most with their new work?”

Paterson: I mostly listen to other classical composers doing what I do. Lately I am inspired by music by Finnish composers such as Kalevi Aho and Magnus Lindberg, but also by living American composers such as Steven Stucky, Christopher Rouse and David Lang (particularly his work the Little Match Girl Passion) and by many of my peers. I have also been listening to indigenous music from around the world, from places like Nigeria, Cuba, India and Japan. I guess it depends what mood I’m in: if I am feeling calm, I’ll listen to choral music, perhaps by composers like Morten Lauridsen, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi or Knut Nystedt. I recently heard a piece by Donald Crockett that I really liked. If I’m feeling more in a pop mood, I might listen to Stereolab, a Buddha Bar album or perhaps music in the electronica vein by musicians like Imogen Heap.”

GNE: “What was your inspiration for composing the piece we’re featuring on the CD and what kind of process do/did you go through when composing it or similar pieces?”

Paterson: Looney Tunes is inspired by cartoon characters. Like most children during the 70s and 80s, I grew up watching cartoons on Saturday mornings, so I guess this rubbed off on me, especially with regard to sound effects and quick-changing musical styles. My favorites were cartoons featuring Looney Tunes characters like the Road Runner, Foghorn Leghorn, Tweety Bird and the Tasmanian Devil, the characters that inspired the movements in this piece. There are a few times I transcribed by ear what I heard in the soundtrack if I needed to quote a snippet of something, because I didn’t have access to the sheet music. I was also intent on using drum set in this piece, which is something I’ve never done in any of my serious works.”

You can find out more about Robert Paterson at his website, and read more of his writing on his blog.

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