Composer Profile: Ryan Layman '12

As mentioned before, the ensemble will be featuring student composers in the spring concert.  In anticipation for this awesome concert, I'll be posting some quick profiles on the composers.  The first in this series, Ryan Layman '12 talks about the story behind his piece, his background in composition and how his love of music.

"As for now, the composition remains untitled. The reason? I haven’t thought of a way to briefly sum up my piece without sounding too corny. Essentially, the piece is going to be programmatic, and will reflect the process of falling in and being in love. The work will open with a solo treble instrument (most likely an oboe) singing a lonely melody. This melody will then be answered by a bass instrument (most likely a cello). The two will then continue exchanging material until they meet. Some music will follow reflecting the coming together of their themes. The music will then become unstable as the instruments “fight”. After the ensuing chaos, order will be resumed, but disorder will still be heard in the background. This whole story will be underscored by the other instruments. 

My inspiration for writing is my love for music. I find that music can speak to people better than words, and so I enjoy expressing myself through music. Furthermore, I love puzzles, and in a way composing is like a puzzle. My musical influence is most strongly Stravinsky. Before this year, I barely even knew who he was, but in the short time I have spent listening to him, I have fallen in love with his textures and musical language. My composition background is quite brief. At the start of my senior year of high school, I had no idea how to read even bass clef. That year was my first theory class, and I loved it. Since coming to Vassar, everything I have studied has been new to me, allowing me to take something from every class and incorporate it into my style. So what should be expected out of my piece? One can expect elements of new and old schools of thinking, joined by contrasting textures and aesthetics."

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