Graham Lynch is a British composer. He has a PhD in composition from King's College London, and he also spent a year at the Royal College of Music. Graham's music has been commissioned and performed in over thirty countries, as well as being frequently recorded to CD and featured on radio and television.
See: grahamlynch.eu/

Ilinca Bernea is a Romanian writer, a theatre woman - stage director - and a complex artist, initiated in contemporary dance, acting, painting and new media. She has a PhD in philosophy from Bucharest University and she is specialized in aesthetics and art theory. She was awarded a few prestigious literary prizes and she is a well regarded photographer.
See: ilinkars.wordpress.com/

Ilinca Bernea: I've always been a bit reluctant towards the expression 'down to earth'. In English, saying this about someone is rather a compliment, meant to point out a person's modesty and good sense, if I'm not mistaken. But, in French, we have the expression 'terre a terre' which is not a compliment at all. It refers to a primitive, dull, disgraceful and even rude way of being. Someone 'terre a terre' appears to be a person that lacks fantasy in the first place. The opposite of the artist. I've learned this when I was a child, French being my second maternal tongue, and I couldn't cope with the English sense of the 'earth' orientation, later on, when I started speaking the language. To me, 'down to earth', is not a compliment. Well... Is it for you? Would you call yourself a realist person?

Graham Lynch: Composing takes much time, and peace and quiet, and so I've become a realist in respect of the organisation of my life; I try to negotiate the outer aspects of my life in an adaptable manner so that time will be available for me to write.

Graham Lynch - Alba (violin and piano)

I.B.: My question is related to the 'realist' art movements. Do you think that art is meant to mirror a social reality and to provide an interpretation for this reflection? How do you cope with 'realism' in general?

G.L.: My artistic inclinations are not however towards realist art in general. Although I enjoy, for example, the novels of Zola, Balzac, and Flaubert, my heart feels closer to the writings of authors like Nerval and Aragon. I am not so much interested in art reflecting life - and where is the 'truth' in this anyway? - as art that conjures up alternative ways of thinking and being.

I.B.: I need to clarify something: no art shape floats beyond reality. If an art piece is unplugged from reality is appears to be fake and pointless. There are social and political implications in the background of every single human expression. But art is meant to question the reality, to transfigure and to re-dimension it. I need to feel, in any art-shape, the confrontation, the contrast, the tension existing between desire and reality, between dream and reality, between the inner and the outer world, I need to feel the drama of the human subject. You mentioned Nerval. I've always been inclined to think of reality in romantic terms, as being the exile of the soul in an impersonal frame. The reality is, in my view, the external world whatever it could mean: a field of interference between all living beings and between them and natural phenomena, something that we are part of, but in a way that doesn't let us express our inner truth entirely... I think that one of the purposes of art was to figure out a way to give a shape to this inner truth, which is, in some aspects, purely particular and, in some others, applicable to the entire species. But, speaking in objective terms, there is no one reality out there. There are as many realities as living beings. To each one of us 'the same' social/natural environment appears in a different way, it tastes differently. 'Cherchez la femme'!... you know. ' Et la Réalité', I'd say.

G.L.: Maybe, as a musician my art form is already removed from a direct confrontation with the real world, and there will always be a debate as to just what music can or cannot legitimately express. I'd agree that every human action must in some ways have a social implication but I don't find myself looking for these in my favourite works of art. I am drawn to the experiences that cannot be expressed in any concrete fashion, that border on dream, and that point in the direction of something more timeless. It's as if one were trying to see behind a mirror. Curiously, with music one needs a highly organised and rational language in order to be able to express the irrationality of emotions and dreams, and not forgetting the powerful aesthetic experience that can be produced by musical structure.

I.B.: Contemporary art forms, validated by the mainstream, tend to become more and more like a critical discourse pointed towards what happens on the world's stage, in other words the arts tend to be rather focused on the external reality than on the impact of its features over the inner human realms. What do you think about the consequences of this orientation of contemporary arts? It's true that there have been currents and movements, that alternated throughout the whole art history, which appeared to be more interested in investigating inner - or outer - realities (personal or collective, individual or mutual) but, I have the intuition that this turn, things have gone a bit too far with the 'realism' and positivism.

G.L.: I entirely agree. The scientific and exoteric viewpoint is all pervasive in contemporary culture. Any discourse to do with inner experience, with what has traditionally been called soul and spirit, has disappeared in a generally accepted way. There is of course a large industry devoted to the alleviation of personal emotional trauma, and other unsettling psychological experiences, but these come under the 'scientific' heading of psychology. Anything that lies outside the remit of science has ceased to have meaning, and this is partly the fault of university arts courses that require external and quantifiable validation.

I.B.: The current chamber and orchestral music proposes the audiences, quite often, noisy, violent and disturbing pieces. Personally, I think that one must be a bit perverted to really enjoy such sonic torture. Do you think that these compositions have something to do with the paradigm of the 'realism'?

G.L.: Realism in music is more problematical to assess, because apart from the verismo style of some Italian opera it's not so obviously apparent. I don't have a problem with the music of the Second Viennese School (Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern), and I like it a lot for its darkness and unsettling expressionist nature. It was communicating something vital about human experience, and in a precise and artistically calculated way. The music that came after this period (Stockhausen, Boulez, Xenakis, for example) seemed to lose some touch with what it was trying to communicate and at times became simply an exploration of new technical possibilities. Ultimately this has lead to a musical sterility in some facets of contemporary music, and audiences have lost interest. If there is a realist dimension it has been in the need for compositions to be justified by a technical apparatus that can be explained, which is seen as showing artistic merit, when of course it's nothing of the sort.

I.B.: Not everything inventive and original is also artistic.

G.L.: Evidently.

I.B.: I never really cared about the 'illusion' matter, but about that graceful feeling which comes along with inspiration. In matters of human interferences there is no objective truth. The roots of desire and attraction are not seated in a palpable reality, but in our deepest instincts. Most artists confessed that they create in an 'altered' state of mind. There is a boiling point wherefrom the pieces of one's mind enter a different state of aggregation, one that produces the inspiration. Are you this kind of artist? And, if so, what does such a 'boiling point' imply for you? Inspiration, where does it come from? In your case?

G.L.: As a composer it can take months or years to write a piece, working on a daily basis. In this context, inspiration is not something that can suddenly arrive and complete a work in a short space of time. The popular view is still that an artist is a special sort of person who feels things in a deeper way and whose individual personality is able to turn these deeper sensations into art. But I disagree with this and find myself in sympathy with the attack that T.S. Eliot made on the 'substantial unity of the soul'. I perceive myself as a fragmented being that has many possibilities and that I am not expressing my personality but instead working in the medium of music to express things that I've often drawn from other arts. My view of inspiration is that it happens when things link up inside me in a way that allows a piece to proceed smoothly for a time; that inner fragments combine to create meaning. Although a work will have a title at the end that will possibly refer to something in the exterior world, or another art work, in the process of composition there will have been many things that were drawn into the magic circle of the music and helped it take shape. I'm interested to know if you consider your art (meaning all your artistic practice, whether visual or literary) as having a language that develops, then are changes in your ways of working - of developing different connections and techniques - conscious explorations of a technique, or do changes in technique arise out of changes in emotion and the development of your individual personality. In other words, is the technique, the process, a result of a conscious development, or a need to find a way of expressing something different that you experience?

I.B.: I try to adjust the language (and by this I mean a certain style/shape of expression) to the nature of the message I aim to transmit and to the flavor of the associated feeling. I try to imprint in my writing or painting a certain tonality, nuance or tension that are inherent to an experience or situation or reflection. The creative language is meant to transmit these issues 'directly' not 'indirectly'. More specifically: saying X is very sad because he has been announced that his best friend passed away is an indirect way of describing a situation, the most indirect language being the standard-expressions (either lexical, sonic or visual) associated to various life matters. The direct way to express someone's desolation is certainly not the statement: X is desolated, but an unpredictable (original) way to express this without naming the desolation. We cannot be moved by stereotype formulations or by the simple name of an emotion. Our brains are used to ingest these names and consecrated expressions automatically and on a purely cognitive level. Even the artistic-shapes, that once seemed very touching, suffer a perceptive erosion in time. One cannot be as impressed by the same tastes and shapes every day. Every language becomes a routine, if it hasn't been aesthetically challenged. That's why the artistic language has to always renew and improve its means and strategies. To answer your question even more clearly: in my case the process is a result of a conscious development. As I gained experience I succeeded better in avoiding common places and 'indirect' expressions.

G.L.: Are you organized in the way you develop, through reading for example, or do you tend to explore new ideas through what you are passionate about at a time, and what intuitively seems interesting?

I.B.: I rely mostly on my instinctive drive and intuition. I seem to be a cerebral person because I need, more than others, perhaps, to put order in my mind and thoughts. Especially because I am not quite organized and rigorous in my way of living, I need to invest time in reflection and analysis. I live my life in the relaxed mode, being very open to many possibilities. My expectancies are usually flexible. I rarely sulk and I try to cope with unfortunate things with humor. But when it comes to creation and love matters, things become serious. I am extremely disciplined in these respects. I have a huge capacity of concentration, I'd say obsessive. I get very focused and I can push my limits (emotionally, physically and intellectually) to a dangerous point. And I... kind of... like it. In fact, the erotic and the aesthetic feelings have the same origins. In such circumstances I become secluded. I lose appetite for anything else. Passion, in its highest, appears to be a lustful form of pain. It's something instinctive, anyway. The animals in heat must feel the same. I felt, many times, when writing or dancing, a special interest in exploring extreme feelings and thoughts. I even found that art could provide me the chance to experience what it would be like to 'lose control'. Have you ever had a similar inclination?

G.L.: There is the routine of composing that I described earlier, and that forms the backbone of what I do. But alongside this there are wonderful highs, and also very dark lows. The situation you describe, of intense focus on a project and the exclusion of everything else, is something that can happen to me in the later stages of writing a piece; and I rather enjoy this experience in which most of the pieces of my life are cast aside. All that is left is the work as the sole object of contemplation, and I get a curious ecstasy and 'high' from this, even if it's fairly short lived.

Graham Lynch - Trio Cocteau

I.B.: I know that one of your favourite books is a collection of essays written by Italo Calvino. I was concerned by his insights exposed there, too. One of them is particularly meaningful to me, because it expresses, in modern terms, the fact that the essential role of the arts was to produce a language able to induce a catharsis. The 'lightness' that he talks about is a sublimation of the raw experiences... We cannot achieve it, but by situating ourselves at a certain distance from our emotional ego and from its intellectual claims as well. This lightness is neither 'zen' contemplation nor detachment nor a simplifying view over a given subject, but the capacity of seeing things in a mental state of serenity. Only rarely can one reach it spontaneously and I think that, if this happens in real life, it is due to the influence of artistic models. It's art's mission to evoke serenity, sais Calvino, to turn a cloudy experience into pure blue... I even think that certain human mental processes have been coined by art experiences in the first place. Don't you think? I have a hunch that this serenity was an aesthetic experience in the beginning.

Graham Lynch - The Lie (lyrics and voice: Ilinca Bernea)

G.L.: This question touches on many areas, and goes to the source of what part the arts play in our lives. From my point of view there are certainly experiences, states of mind, that would have been impossible for me to experience outside of an aesthetic model. Ordinary life experience is fragmentary and chopped into small moments that range from the physical (including sexual), emotional, cerebral, sensations of the heart, and so on. These often come at us in a random and unplanned way, mainly from causes outside of our control. In a good work of art these scattered facets of experience are condensed into a single unified event (poem, painting, piece of music) which situates them in a different dimension of being; often a balanced whole that is full of interior tension and meaning but which has a kind of stasis and serenity.

I.B.: Personally I consider this serenity to have the same roots with humour. What is humour? What part does it play in our lives? How important is it? Is humour able to produce catharsis? For me, humour is a contact point of the human conscience with the sublime.

G.L.: I think humour can act as a lightening conductor to extreme situations, and often dark humour is the funniest. It can diffuse an emotion, like a bomb that's been made safe, and bring down to a 'human' level events that are so much greater than ourselves and which otherwise might threaten to overwhelm us.

I.B.: Which is the first thing that comes through your mind when you hear the word 'world'?

G.L.: Hmmm... well, a sense of something that belongs to everyone and we'd better look after it.

I.B.: And the word 'act'?

G.L.: To write music.

I.B.: Which one, among the five senses, do you identify the most with? To what extent is art a sensorial experience for you?
G.L.: Probably sight. Which may be strange for a musician, but as a composer much of the music I relate to goes on inside my head, rather than an aural experience of sounds outside myself. Visual art, and the mere presence of colours, are vital to me. Colours in isolation contain emotion, but this is not true of harmony (e.g. a single chord) it only functions and comes to life in a context. Western harmonic practices are culturally conditioned, and a recent invention, but colour is more biologically rooted in us as an experience. As a visual artist, do you perceive individual colours as encoding sensations?

I.B.: I think so.

G.L.: And does this, in any conscious way, reflect on how you construct your paintings?

I.B.: To me, painting is a more sensorial, so irrational, experience compared to the other arts I practice. There is a certain 'need for color' in the background of my appetite for painting.

G.L.: Why does black and white appear to me to be more evocative, sensuous, interesting, and curious?

I.B.: The black and white suggests dramatic lines and complementary elements and accents and emphasizes the contrasts. Also, it evokes something shadowy, obscure, ambiguous, and this ambiguity comes up with semantic complexity. There is a certain essentialism in the black and white art shapes and a higher degree of transfiguration of the basic images provided by the surrounding reality.

G.L.: Is art appealing to us when it is the 'incomplete' black and white photography, or the neutral piano sound, because it relates directly to the way we see things through memory, and in the 'unreal' way becomes a stronger part of our inner reality? A Debussy piano prelude is already like a memory, as is b & w photography.

I.B.: What you say is very interesting. It sounds Proustian, somehow! I think that all arts have, in their own specific way, the ability to access and activate our affective memory and to bring fresh air into our inner realities, but I never felt that there is something neutral in an art shape that touches me. On the contrary, to me, black and white photography comes up with a dramatic accent, because it makes the contrast appear more clearly. Is there really a neutral sound or image? Not only in art, but also in the surrounding environment. We are naturally programmed to interpret our sensorial experiences, to decode them and to transpose them into meanings. Some abstract artists exploited the fact cleverly. Jackson Pollock for instance. Changing the topic, what do you think about the so called militant-art? I am referring to those art-shapes that are ideologically rooted?

G.L.: I'm not sure that those works of art I value most can be crystallised down to a single meaning or ideology, the best works radiate many alternative readings. For this reason I mostly find ideologically driven art to be monocultural and dull. This is one of the problems I have with much conceptual art, where an accompanying linguistic description of what it's about is given for one to 'understand' it. How do you relate to much of the modern conceptual at?

I.B.: I find it a little too cerebral and demonstrative for what I normally expect from an art work. And also reductionist, because of the clarity of the message. A clear message is a univocal one, but univocal messages have no place in art. They provide an explanation for their content inside of the composition, it's like buying an elegant dress that has written beside a manual of instructions suggesting in what circumstances to wear it, at what temperature to wash it and so on... I don't like to be told how to understand an art work, I want to be free to do it in my own way. The contemporary art treats us as if we were from another planet or unable to use our own minds. My linguistic sensibility tells me that any special qualification attributed to an art work diminishes its value. Saying about a painting, for instance: this is a piece of art means more than saying: this is a piece of engaged art. Sometimes, the specific determinations of the qualities of an object straiten, on perceptive level, its field of valences, significance and virtues. The same thing happens with the adjectives and epithets associated with already praising characterisations. Saying about a woman that she is very beautiful means less than saying: this woman is beautiful!
I don't necessary agree with that famous 'less is more' of Van der Rohe, but in some circumstances I think it's true.
Secondly, I think that any authentic art piece is engaged someway somehow. No matter if it militates for freedom, scepticism or cynicism, for anarchy or lust, it emphasized a massage. All art shapes are militant, to a certain extent. Not only the external and over-personal causes deserve to be called causes. But the art that is totally submitted to ideological purposes is outrageous, of course. It is simple propaganda.
I never asked you. What's your favourite art work?

G.L.: Impossible to answer! Could you? It depends very much on my mood at any time, and whilst I have certain artists that I will always be close to and periodically return to I could never privilege one over the others.

I.B.: (laughs): I could. I'm obsessed with Egon Schiele's Freundschaft. So, that's my piece.

G.L.: Music seems to be the only art form that you don't directly work with, but what part does music play in your life?

I.B.: I'm the most inspired by music. I'm totally addicted. Music is the main catalyst of my emotional drive.

G.L.: Is the culture of your country rooted in your own work, or do you think your output would be much the same wherever you had been brought up?

I.B.: Since we don't live in isolated or purely traditional cultures, it's basically impossible to be entirely influenced by a single one. We all grew up reading literature, listening to music or watching movies and enjoying art pieces from various times and cultural spaces... Is the Romanian culture purely Romanian? Is the French culture purely French? This would be a first question. Like any living organism, a culture has many dependences and influences and is meant to evolve and to become. Someone who lacks human contacts gets emotionally and intellectually dry, his personality turns gray and dull. An animal in captivity suffers and falls ill more easily: it is disrupted from its natural fate. That's natural for cultures too. They need to communicate. The worst thing in communism was this closure, I'd say. A culture kept in 'captivity' and controlled by a totalitarian regime alters and goes rotten quickly. This is what happened to the Romanian culture during the time of the cold war. When I was born, the cultural environment was a nightmare. I cannot identify with it, no way... By the contrary: I did everything possible to escape it. I tried to find my roots in other cultures. The best thing is that a culture is a grounded in the air. It is something ethereal, then accessible with means that are not dependant on material-contexts.
It's true that the social background plays a crucial role is in the process of our becoming. If this background is favorable we identify ourselves with its values, but if it is hostile, we tend to grow in opposition with its features and values. That's the point.

G.L.: It's always been much harder to define British culture, as for example compared to French, German or Italian. We have always tended to assimilate culture from outside and to often be late on catching up with artistic changes in the rest of Europe. And we are more a nation of individual creators than movements. Words like 'culture', and 'intellectual', are treated with a kind of derision and suspicion over here, and I would be unable to define my own specifically British cultural experiences.

I.B.: Beginning with the Renaissance time, when the art-creator gained another status and took on the right to interpret the world in his own terms, the cultural traditions have been challenged and transfigured and, sometimes, left aside. The language exploded and flourished, achieving unexpected meanings and shapes, enlarging the frontiers of understanding. The more particular the artistic expression became, and independent from the given cultural frames, the more universal its contents and meanings turned out to be. This is not a paradox, it is something obvious. The claim for 'independence' of the Renaissance artists could stand for a revolution in the art history, don't you think? How do you relate with them, by the way?

G.L.: For me, the Renaissance sits artistically between the two cultural periods that interest me most: Ancient Greece, especially its bucolic aspect; and the modern European city, epitomised by 19th - 20th century Paris. We all have that experience of trying to relate to the world of nature (and in a manner that can only ever be fictional and artificial), and we also experience the alienation of the modern city. The Renaissance drew its inspiration from how it imagined Ancient Greece, and re-vitalised its paganism into new forms and depths of expression, a real revolution of spirit. This was gradually projected forward in time, and the enquiry into individual experience became more of a relationship between a person and their city environment. Many of the insights of the likes of Baudelaire, the Goncourt brothers, Huysmans, Rilke (on Paris), Breton, and Aragon, seem very relevant to our contemporary experience. Without the breakthrough of the Renaissance this would have been impossible.

I.B.: In what concerns the 'specific difference' that sets forth the distinctive features of a culture, I have a particular curiosity related to the English-kind. I have my own anecdotic guide marks and references 'in the domain' and I use to improvise jokes with Englishmen, you know, but I'm very interested to hear what you appreciate as being the essence of Englishness and to compare, eventually, our views.

G.L.: I honestly find that impossible to answer! I also don't feel specifically English - my father was Irish, and I've lived much of my adult life in the far north of Scotland, and for the last fifteen years in Cornwall; all of these places have strong Celtic connections. Although I spend a lot of time in London these days I sometimes feel I'm the only British person there. The concept of 'Englishness' is currently undergoing national scrutiny, and when I was younger it didn't exist as a separate category, and it doesn't much interest me. I'd be interested to know what you see as Englishness from the outside?

I.B.: What is specifically English I think is the avoidance of complicating one's life by directly and personally telling things that could be said impersonally or simply kept under silence, a reluctance towards confessions and sincerity, a very polite manner of saying offensive things, a very strong, even obsessive, sense of ridiculousness that comes along with a keen sense of humour - this is the bonus track - and also a vivid unspoken imagination doubled with much social suspicion. In my novel, The Black Box, I said, somewhere, a resuming phrase: 'The civilized man is balanced, dry, calculated, distant, scared of embarrassment, terrified of superlatives, in a word: English'. (....) 'A well-educated English man would much sooner admit to have been roaring drunk that to have dropped a tear to one of Tom Jones' songs'. Do you remember when you asked me once, how I would define my style and I replied English? (laughs). My English style helps me, sometimes, to waste a lot of time and energy trying to cover my discontent with some people, struggling to invent reasons or excuses for my lack of interest in others, unnecessary flattering annoying and superficial blokes or heroically putting up with some harsh pestles.

G.L.: Your analysis of 'Englishness' is accurate, although in the last few decades we have surprised ourselves by loosening up a bit. This is partly as a result of people traveling more, something which was always more common throughout the rest of Europe.

I.B.: (laughs): That's typically English: saying that your interlocutor is accurate but kind of wrong! See?... Compared to the period of your studentship (the late 70s) how is the artistic and cultural life in England? Is the audience more aware and demanding or more indifferent? Is the free-art-market more diversified or more restrictive? Is it more difficult for an independent artist/ musician/poet to gain an audience now or was it harder then?

G.L.: I think that any changes that have occurred are fairly universal in all developed countries. Money has dominated the art market, at the exclusion of taste or quality. Corporate funding and government money have also influenced the market for arts, and individual creators find it harder to make a living as consumers of art expect things for free (especially music). There has been a huge increase in the number of creators - helped by the internet - but a diminution in high quality arts criticism and discourse.

I.B.: I'd like to propose you a game. Tell me, in a few words, how you would describe - mentioning their most distinctive features - each one of the decades of the recent history, beginning with the 60s. Of course, I'm interested in the evolution of the artistic phenomena.

G.L.: This is another difficult question! Because I've lived in remote parts of the UK, without TV or newspapers in my life, I've not been very aware of cultural changes. In the last decade I have become more aware of what's happening, and more interested. My broad view would be that the post war decades (50s-80s) still contained the last stages of the careers of some of the 20th century's important creators - for example, Samuel Beckett. Once that generation had gone, and with the serious arts being gradually devalued in education and the media, there has been a slow decline in the quality of artistic output. But I'd be very interested to hear your perspective on this.

I.B.: We're talking here about the UK, because in Romania, during those years, we lived in communism and the situation was completely different. The 60's were agitated and driven by utopian social euphoria, with energetic youngsters ready to build a brand new world. And they partly accomplished their goal, but this new world was not necessarily a better one. The 70's came up with the withdrawal symptoms following the intoxication with various utopian ideas and also with some very interesting artistic experiments, the 80's have been the most creative and reflexive and lucid and, what's most important, favourable to emerging and independent artists, the 90's were still creative and humanist oriented - I'd say that especially cinematography developed and evolved a lot back then (the best movies I've seen were made during that decade) - and, with the new era, the corporatist system started to grab hold of every component of society and culture, including the art market that became less and less free. In our days, changes are so rapid and spectacular! With every generation a world is dying. It's amazing and kind of frightening how quickly the society transforms!
I've lived no more than 4 decades on earth and I barely recognize familiar mentalities and values around and, I can't quite keep up with the actual world. I feel a like misfit. In the 90's, for instance, I had a strong feeling that I understood what was going on. I don't have it, anymore. Formerly, in other centuries, the changes occurred in a longer time, so people didn't have such a powerful suggestion of the mortality of all things.

G.L.: This experience of release and experiment ran out of steam as the arts have became more of a corporate and bureaucratic world. After the financial crash arts organisations have increasingly needed to satisfy a broad social and inclusive remit, which in many ways can be good but runs the risk of making the arts safe and just another commodity.

I.B.: Personally, I identify myself with my generation and with yours, because I used to look up to it, when I was a teenager. The world, in the way I understand and like it, is the one conceived by our generations and coined in our creations. By the way. This is a question I ask myself often and I want to ask you too... Do you identify yourself with your creations? The strange fact is that most people tend to identify themselves and, particularly, their feelings with what they love, not with what they come to express. Most people feel that their favourite art- works and music represent their true self in a larger measure and even better than what they come to say about themselves. In my case it is true anyway. Even though I am pleased with my creations, I still feel more related to my favourite books, paintings and music. I find myself projected in what I love not in what I come to express. Maybe it is normal, if we do not have narcissist disorders or other such things. I don't know. What do you think?

G.L.: In many ways what I create feels rather foreign to me. I hear the faults of my music, its incomplete nature, and I cannot get any distance from it as I can with other works of art.

I.B.: The identification process has to do with contemplation, indeed. The catalyst of self-discovery is the contemplation.

G.L.: I identify powerfully with my favourite poets, novelists, and painters (and also composers, but to a slightly less extent for some reason), but I cannot see myself in my music, in the same way that I don't 'know' myself anyway. Even if I feel some pleasure at a piece I've written it's not because I perceive anything of my personality there. I'd agree with Eliot, that a work of art is representative of an artist working in a medium, but not of the artist's personality.
I sometimes wish I felt more content with my music...

I.B.: What does composition bring you, Graham? In my case, it comes up with a certain sense of freedom, definitely.

G.L.: In the physical world one is always contained within a specific space, there is constantly a limit, a visible horizon. In the interior world, where creativity takes place, there is a sense of infinite freedom. Wandering around this inner landscape can be a liberating experience but one has to be careful not to get lost in it, and to use one's powers to project some unity out of this and into the 'real' world. But I agree with you, there is this sense of freedom.

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