Conductor Sir James MacMillan Releases New Book for Aspiring Composers

The Scottish conductor’s book, “Creative Composition for the Classroom,” was written with composer Jennifer Martin

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Published with Trinity College London Press, MacMillan and Martin’s work offers readers insight into their own compositional techniques and clarifies the idea of musical creativity. 

The book includes skills that can help free students’ imaginations and give them the tools and confidence to develop ideas and share them with others.

Throughout the chapters, critical thinking is encouraged in individual and group activities, musical examples and analysis, hints and tips, and listening suggestions.

For teachers, the concepts in the book can be adapted for different learning settings. The book includes topics on pitch, rhythm, timbre, pulse, harmony, decision-making, instrumentation, and musical structure. 

For young composers, the pictorial content can aid in visualizing their work holistically before starting to write it. A printable worksheet — also available to download — is included to act as a checklist for making compositional choices.

The authors’ effort in creating the work over the last 30 years extends from their work in Scotland and internationally. It was MacMillan’s festival, The Cumnock Tryst that played the biggest role. 

Through educational programs at the festival, they defined a new approach to supporting music teachers and their students across Scotland’s East Ayrshire; this publication is derived from their highly-praised method of teaching and encouragement.  

MacMillan is the founder and Artistic Director of The Cumnock Tryst. He attended Edinburgh University and completed a doctorate in composition at Durham University studying with John Casken

From 2000 to 2009, he was composer and conductor with the BBC Philharmonic and was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic in 2010. His fourth symphony and viola concerto were featured on Lawrence Power’s album, recently released on Hyperion Records

A composer, Jennifer Martin spent 30 years in education as a teacher, lecturer, orchestral education manager, and consultant. She joined the Tryst team as Senior Producer in 2019, having been on the board since it was established. 

She was most recently appointed as chief executive of the Hebrides Ensemble and Learning Manager at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. She is also the first CEO of The Cumnock Tryst.

The book will receive a launch during The Cumnock Tryst festival held from September 30 to October 3, 2021. 

To purchase the book, click here