Luc Martin speaks about expanding sound palette and how important it is to immerse yourself in the music and listen to it several times.

martin luck interview
What does music mean to you personally?

Music is an essential part of my life. Making music is also a passion that I can rarely ignore from one day to another. I often find myself trying to work more efficiently through the non musical activities of my day in order to have a few extra minutes at the piano. It is while I am composing or practicing that I am most happy.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

Like poetry or other forms art, music can be inspired by fantasy but a great deal of music has also been written as a result of how the composer perceived his surroundings. How many great works of art have been composed as a result of social or political events? One only has to think of Shostakovich. Music can also be a means for composers to share personal thoughts. I think music speaks from the soul and is the musicians greatest tool.

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

I am thinking I would have become a zoo keeper. I simply love animals.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about your future?

I think that although the audience is getting older, we, as musicians, need to create more opportunities for our young to experience music through school concerts, presentations and funding of music education. Lets put instruments in the hands of our young minds. I had the great opportunity to be part of a great music program in high school. I was surrounded by kids who loved to spend time in the music room practicing. Making music was a way to leave all of our worries behind for a little while. Kids need that escape. And who knows, it might become a passion.

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?

Classical music’s role will remain the same. The quest to reinvent how we write music will likely move back to the middle of the pendulum with regards to new sonorities and textures. We have already heard a move back towards melodic writing as opposed to textural or sonorous. There is for sure a place for all forms of creation but what will assure a continuation in what we do as composers will likely be music that is more accessible to a larger group of music lovers.

Do you think that the classical musician today needs to be more creative?
Whats the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

Creativity is at the core of everything I do. Whether I am teaching, performing or composing, creativity is key. Finding new ways to motivate as I teach. Discovering a different way of interpreting a passage as I play. Finding that special sonority or colour for a passage in my latest work. Its all about being creative. I think that its what I love most about being a musician.

Do you think we musicians can do something to attract young generation into the classical music concerts? How will you proceed?

That is a hard question to answer. The younger generations are too often not exposed to classical music. Other than the passing moment in a movie where classical music is playing in the background, children are continuously bombarded with the ever present pop culture. As school music programs keep falling to the away side in many regions of Canada, even more children will grow up not knowing the great works of Beethoven and Brahms.

I think, as professional musicians, we all have a voice when it comes to creating opportunities to bring our art to the next generation. Working closely with school boards and the non for profit art organizations in our region to offer projects or events with children in mind is one way we can participate in the growth of art as a whole.

As long as there is some funding available for music, musicians and composers should choose to be part of as many initiatives with regards to bringing classical music to children. There are various opportunities for funding to create and produce a concert series or an educational workshop for children, its all about choosing to creating the initiative and devoting some time and energy towards the growth of our audience. The children are the future of our art.

Tell us about your creative process. Do you have your favourite piece (written by you) How did you start working on it?

My creative process largely revolves around a personal sound palette derived from variants of non traditional scales and modes. I like to explore chord succession techniques and chord succession patterns to lead the melodic movements. I compose the main themes with underlying sonorities in successions. Then I develop the melodic material through the chord succession patterns. I do also like to play with expectations to create tension and resolution patterns. As I compose, I play with various structural aspects of the work to create an overall form that lends itself well to the motivic and melodic expansions. It’s all about have unity and creating a coherent process for the listener.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

I would make the most of the advent of recorded video performances. Explore the Internet for live streaming of concerts. There is also an extensive collection of performances available on DVD of Blue-Ray. Explore some of these concerts and discover the works that you might like. From there, further explore that composer’s work. Attend as many live performances of the great masterworks as possible. It’s all about immersing yourself in this music. As you develop your ear to this repertoire, revisit the music and composers that, at one point, didn’t do it for you. As your ear develops so will your taste for various genres. Above all enjoy the experience.

Now it is a common practice in the media to talk that the classical music is getting into the consumption business, do you agree? We are speaking about the supply and demand rules and how to sell your “product” in your case your compositions. How do you see it?

The marketing of my work as a composer is, as you might know, laborious. Classical music has a small market and as I continue to discover new music, I realize that there are a great deal of very good composers out there. We are all biding for the same market.

I see myself as a professional composer in the sense that my focus is to write and produce high quality music. I am however, not looking to make a living at it. I am a music teacher by day and a professional composer during the evenings and weekends. This formula enables me to write what I want to write and share it with musicians from around the world with hopes of having it performed at some point. I don’t mind sharing my scores without a charge because, for me, the performance is the value that I get in return.

I have had several commissions that have generated revenue from my work as a composer but not with the consistency needed to support a family. It is why I choose not to strain my art with the burden of having to make money at it.

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

I am presently working on a new piece for horn, viola and piano. I’m exploring further ideas with chord successions and patterns of chord successions based on whole-tone colours and other non-traditional modes. This piece will likely continue to expand my sound palette.

I am also work in on a choral piece dedicated to my late mother who past away two years ago.



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