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What has always fascinated me about music, is that it has the ability to change. 

This is why I write open music.

  • the music is composed; but each performance is unique

  • decisions made during performance shape the work

  • there is equity in the performer/composer exchange

Every piece is an opportunity for communication:

  •  between musician / audience

  •  between musician / musician

  •  between musician / composer

Fredrick Gifford portrait by Karjaka

What is open music?

The frame that guides my artistic work is openness. For me, openness is the ability of a piece to be fully composed while at the same time not entirely fixed, either in its compositional process, its realization, or both. Openness can occur at many levels – even on several at once.


This approach augments traditional technique by allowing me to think carefully about notation, orchestration and the indeterminate reality of composing with timbre/sound as a structural element.


There is an important social dimension in this work: its unique agency invites performers and listeners into dialogue and action with the open work. 


Openness is predisposed to interdisciplinary and collaborative projects, it is not limited to sound; it may demand the integration of technology to aid in real-time decision-making, reactive forming and active listening.


My approach transcends style, material or medium.

Why write open music?

I seek to compose a sonic action environment where the performers can interact with my score and each other, to create a unique performance of the work. My scores are usually sets of materials that include:

  • completely written-out music

  • detailed tablature 

  • text information like real-time listening cues 

  • guidelines that define the action-space for the performer 

Once, when the Arditti String quartet was rehearsing one of my works, 

pointing towards ever/an(y)nowhere, two players suddenly ended together, in the middle of two completely independent lines. Apparently surprised, Arditti asked: ”That can’t happen, can it?” –“It just did” was my delighted response. We all laughed.


This is exactly what openness means for me: by performing my compositions, new sounds and situations that none of us could have imagined become possible. I try to compose is a pathway to get there.

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