Back in the summer of 2004, not long after I had finished my Masters in Composition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, I got a call from another composer based in Glasgow, David Fennessy. I had met Dave once or twice before in passing and had heard some of his music, which I'd liked, and I think he'd heard some of mine (I think he was at the performance of Fumbling is just a Desperate Cry for Help). He had a proposal about an event he was thinking about with some other composers, and he wondered if I'd be interested in being involved. It sounded interesting and so we agreed to meet.
We met a couple days later in the Whistler's Mother on Byres Rd. He, along with four other composers, John De Simone, Gareth Williams, Pete Dowling & John Harris, were planning to put on a two-night event, and wanted to know if I'd be the sixth composer. Over the two nights, each composer would put on a new amplified piece of about 50-minutes. Basically a piece that we'd want to do but would never get commissioned to do. Most of us would form ensembles specifically for the event. Interspersed between our music would be visual art/video works by artists that we respected (these included Rob Kennedy, Torsten Lauschmann and some others).
Somewhat central to the intention was that it not be a classical music concert. The term 'concert' wasn't even being used, opting instead for 'exhibition'. Thus the KEN exhibition was born.
I don't completely remember why it was called KEN. In Scottish parlance 'Ken' means 'know', as in 'Ye ken?' (you know?'), so that probably had something to do with it.
In any case, it was something I was immediately on board with. I'd been having a lot of doubt about how my music should be presented, and was becoming somewhat disillusioned with the classical concert format. I also wanted to work once again with amplified ensemble, having written a lot for my own band Invention Ensemble from 1998-2003.
And so over the summer, we all met together regularly to plan, to discuss and to argue. We called in every favour we could, begged, borrowed (and bought) equipment. We all invested a chunk of money to cover some of the things we couldn't get any other way.
And of course, we wrote. 50 minutes of music in around 4-5 months is no small amount. Not for me anyway, and so between writing and organising, it was a pretty frantic summer/autumn.
I wrote a 3-movement work called Mural, and sandwiched in between the second and third movement was an earlier piece Nightcreeper, which I felt fitted with the piece and deserved a proper public performance.
Mural was inspired by a Jackson Pollock painting of the same name. I'd been looking at a lot of Pollock's work at the time, and this was the first of two pieces inspired by one of his paintings (the second being The Deep).
About the Piece