Intuition and Process: A critical and reflective commentary on a portfolio of compositions

Michael Cryne

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

499 Downloads (Pure)


This thesis consists of a portfolio of nine compositions accompanied by a written commentary, plus audio recordings of most of the works. The compositions span a wide variety of instrumentations from a work for large orchestra to solo instrumental and chamber works, some including electronics.

In the accompanying commentary I examine the technical foundations of my compositional language, discussing my interest in counterpoint and my evolving approach to vertical harmony. I also discuss my use of melodic and rhythmic cells in helping me develop my material and to maintain a sense of aural coherence.

I investigate how I use extra-musical content to help me determine various elements of my music, from form and large-scale structure, through to broader aesthetic impulses. I discuss the importance of titles in my work, and how I view the relationship between music and the world. I explain how the views of composers Kaija Saariaho and Jonathan Harvey have helped shape my approach to extra-musical stimuli.

Finally, I discuss my own work in context, discussing the challenges of determining a personal style in the 21st century. I consider the tension between my intuitive method and my desire for a coherent musical experience from the listener’s point of view.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Bowden, Mark, Supervisor
  • Grime, Helen, Advisor
Award date3 Oct 2016
Publication statusUnpublished - 3 Oct 2016


  • Composition
  • Contemporary classical music
  • composition

Cite this