Digitiphony 1 Press Pack
Welcome to the press and info page for Digitiphony 1. I have written ten Digitiphonies (Electro-orchestral Symphonies - for further info on all my Digitiphonies, see /digitiphony) - this was my first; it was originally performed by my former band Ukay Hytz.
It is shorter than my other Digitiphonies, at 23 minutes long. Scroll down to view a pdf of the full score, which (if you open it in a new window) can be read at the same time as listening to the audio, which is further down the page, to give an idea of the piece in performance, with Orchestra and additional desks of DAWs for the electro elements. Scroll further down for a Q & A about the concept of Digitiphony.
Do all the Digitiphonies stand alone or is there a thread that joins them together?
They all stand alone but the instrumentation is what connects them – orchestral and electro. That is the strand that runs through them all.
I know you mention other works which combine genres but do you think you are one of the first to have produced these as lengthy sophisticated pieces?
I think composers have been writing in that style since the sixties (Deep Purple concerto for orchestra and band was one of the first, but obviously that was not electro, other than the electricity required to power their amps !) The Dr Who theme, in it's 2000's reincarnation as well as more and more music for film and TV is written in that cross-genre style, but as far as I know nobody has made a point of using that style to write longer form works. I am sure there must be some, as in this world nothing ever exists in isolation, but I am pretty sure no-one has defined it as I have done, or written a 'series' of them in the way composers write series of symphonies. When I was studying Media Music Composition, my tutor, Peter Howell (who coincidentally worked on the original Dr Who theme as part of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop) said he admired the fact that I could compose in that style for more than a minute or two's length, which is what most music of that ilk is – short. He said he could do a few minutes worth, but found it difficult writing anything longer. That is the case for a lot of Electro Orchestral music I think – it tends to exist in short bursts.
What did and does continue to influence you?
I feel both a great weight and and great support from the host of composers that have come before me. My 'main man' is JS Bach, but also I have been heavily influenced by Shostakovich, Brahms, Beethoven, Bruckner, Panufnik, Brian Eno, Craig Armstrong, Arnold Bax, Yes, (early)Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Tangerine Dream, The Orb – the list is very long. I am on a constant journey of learning and discovery; Richard Howard (who used to work for Hyperion Records) has been not only a good friend but a great teacher in introducing me to new composers. His enthusiasm is infectious. I have learnt more from him than any music teacher I had, not because he 'teaches' but because he suggests directions and areas for me to listen and explore in. My (one episode!) podcast 'The Digitiphony Concept' explains how I feel the history of music has led to fertile ground for sowing the seeds of Digitiphony - https://www.mixcloud.com/Mikelisledunn/the-digitiphony-concept/ - I would say though that I have noticed more and more composers working in this area, and I think it is only a matter of time before other people start to come up with large scale works like Digitiphonies.
You talk about studying dance before writing Digitiphony 9 - 'Flows of Time' - did you actively study other areas before you wrote any of the others too?
No. That was a one off – and I didn't study dance, I just joined a 5Rhythms group and experienced how it felt to dance that way. There were teachers in the group though who demonstrated the practice. Sadly Covid stopped that, or I would probably still be going to the group in Midhurst. 5Rhythms is very liberating, and there are groups all over the world – you should try it ! Each Digitiphony does have a 'concept' or something that inspired it, but I didn't do any special study of those concepts before I started composing, though they were in my mind as I wrote the music. In the case of Digitiphony 5 (The Five Temperaments) I was working on the movement for 'The Melancholic' when I had my stroke, which seemed very apt as that is the temperament nearest to my own. Carl Neilson also wrote a symphony on the subject but he called it 'The Four Temperaments' – one more Temperament has been discovered/defined since then. All my Digitiphonies are the result of a lifetime of musical study, which will never end (I hope) – the minute we stop learning, the road has ended.
If you could only produce and perform one Digitiphony which one would you choose and why?
At present it would have to be Digitiphony 1 (which was originally just called 'A Digitiphony') as it is the only one that has been scored out. Any Conductor and Orchestra performing a Digitiphony would need a score and parts. Transcribing the score for Digitiphony 1 took me over two years (in amongst other things) which is as long as it takes me to compose a Digitiphony – it's a long job. Part of the reason it took me so long was that when I wrote Digitiphony 1, computers, or mine at least, were not so powerful – I had to compose and record the orchestral sections in separate bits (Brass, Strings, percussion etc) and then reassemble them into one project at the end, so I had to find those separate project files on my hard drives where the notes originated and then combine them into a score. Hopefully Digitiphonies 2-10 will be quicker to transcribe and score, but there again they are longer and more complicated than Digitiphony 1, so maybe not. Also, I think Digitiphony 1 is the most mainstream, accessible Digitphony for audiences who have never heard this type of music before, and it serves as a good introduction to the concept.
Do all the Digitiphonies have 4 movements? I am sure maybe I should know this but have you written them this way to follow traditional classical formats?
The idea in my mind was always that they should have 3, 4 or 5 movements, yes. However Digitiphony 8 is four movements mashed into one long piece – it is called 'An Infinite Space' and I wanted to convey the idea of infinity – ie 'states of being' blurred into one – changing and morphing, but continuing endlessly.
If you could achieve your 'gold' goal what would that be, what would you ultimately like to see happen to the works?
I would like to see all of my Digitiphonies performed all across the world, by different orchestras and electro ensembles, all with their own individual take on them – I see them as templates, which like a good symphony, can be re-invented and re-interpreted by different conductors and players.
Who would your audience be at a live performance?
I hope that my Digitiphonies will appeal to a wide cross section of the music listening population, once they have been introduced to a musical format that will obviously be unfamiliar at first. However I have always seen my 'core' audience as being people who were in their teens, twenties and thirties in the early 1990's and who experienced the 'second summer of Love' – the raves, the trance revolution and the 'house' phenomenon. It was a new chapter in music similar to that of the sixties – an expansion of the musical consciousness. I felt excited and privileged to be a part of that (though I would have liked to be alive and old enough to be aware of the sixties too), and it had an effect on all the music I wrote after that decade.
Would you rather perform at a festival or the Royal Albert Hall?
Either. Part of the concept of a Digitphony is that it would be equally at home being performed in a concert hall or an open air festival. Though I would rather not be performing myself – I would prefer the right person(s) to be performing the Electro elements, but not me. However if no-one could be found and it meant the Digitiphony could be performed, rather than not, then I would do it.
How is Digitiphony pronounced?
Di – as in 'dig'
gi – as in 'gin'
ti – as 'tin' (- emphasis on this syllable)
pho – as in 'fog'
ny – as in 'knee'
(phonetically - 'Di-ji-ti-fo-nee')
Michael Dunn, January 2022