Paul White




My music aims to have a direct appeal whilst at the same time being musically interesting. It avoids the intellectualism of the late twentieth century but tends to be more complex in terms of harmony, structure and rhythm than most of today's music.

Paul White was born in Newcastle, England. He studied music at Cambridge University, The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and London University Institute of Education. His piano teachers included Hilda Bor and James Gibb. After this, he worked as a music teacher in many countries, including Italy, Australia, Mexico, Singapore, Jordan, Switzerland and Spain. He has now retired from teaching and devotes his time to composing and piano performance. His compositions include more than 100 piano pieces and numerous songs. He has also written a book on piano technique, which can be obtained free from the website below.



Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

I would agree that most of my music is about fantasy, and many of my pieces have a "Fairytale" atmosphere, as though telling a story. The piece which you are learning is different, as it is about harsh reality ! (“Procession” A.S.)

If you were not a professional musician, would would you have been?

If I had not been a musician, I would have been a scientist. I loved chemistry as a child, and used to make my own fireworks ! Recently I invented a new type of swimming goggle and have made a prototype, although I have not yet found a way of developing this commercially. Most of my life I was a music teacher, but retired from this a few years ago in order to concentrate on composing and playing the piano. I have also written a book about piano technique, which is a free download on the internet.

What do you envision the role of classical music to be in the 21 century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

I believe that Classical music is moving away from the intellectualism of the late 20th century towards a more direct form of expression which appeals to a wider audience. This includes influences from many popular forms of music, including pop, folk, jazz and new age. There is a great deal of piano music now which comes somewhere between classical and popular styles, and is quite widely listened to. I see my own music as part of this.

Tell us about your creative process.

Although I went through a rigorous academic musical training, I now compose in a largely intuitive way, sitting at the piano with a pencil and paper. Often musical ideas come to me when I am doing something else, for example walking in the countryside. As a result, I have literally hundreds of short sketches for pieces, many of which will probably never be written. Sources of inspiration come from Nature and from human experience. I am influenced by a wide variety of styles, including classical, folk and jazz, all of which I have been involved in at various times. Medieval music is also a source of inspiration. I am particularly influenced by the earlier twentieth century composers, including Debussy, Ravel, Messiaen and Bartok. Some of the main characteristics of my style include using uneven and changing time signatures, for example, 5/8, 7/8, 11/8. These offer a wonderful variety of opportunities for rhythmic invention. Another feature is the use of unusual and exotic modes and scales, particularly symmetrical scales as used by Messiaen, and folkloric scales as found in Bartok.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

My newest project, which I am currently practicing, is inspired by Eastern European music. The main theme has echoes reminiscent of a traditional Polish folk song called River Wisla. The middle section is strongly influenced by the style of Bartok, with its changing rhythms and exotic scales.