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Aspects of the music of Keith Barnard,


Someone once said 'There are two types of music: Good music and Bad music.' I take this to mean that there are no good or bad styles (country, gospel, Javanese, European Renaissance etc), just good or bad pieces in such styles. Thus, though I am not a big country music fan, the singer/songwriter Stompin' Tom Connors is a very remarkable musician who has written and performed some very impressive music.

New Age music is one of those styles which can come under extreme criticism by various factions. But here too I would like to suggest it is the composer and not the style that is significant.

New Age music is devoted to a meditative conception of composition. Non-active, quiet, reflective, harmonically simple, melodically minimal and surrounded by a halo of reverberation. Sometimes there are distinct philosophic conceptions that inspire it, for example Atlantis, Mu, Lemuria (ancient civilizations said to have existed long ago), or ceremonial magic or even a spiritual ecological awareness.

Such are some of the characteristics that have been ascribed to New Age Music.

Keith Barnard in St Petersburg, Russia, June 2002
Keith Barnard in St Petersburg, Russia, June 2002

Keith Barnard, an English composer, can quickly be fitted into the New Age style. He has written 113 works to date, including works for piano, voice, chorus, chamber ensemble, and orchestra along with the two part chamber opera The Healing Angels. His works have been performed in St Petersburg and Thailand and Angelic Nocturne was given its première by Jonathan Powell. With titles like For the Healing of the Mind, or The Mantric Energy of Silence and his philosophic interest in ancient civilizations and magical potencies of colours, Barnard might easily be relegated to and then lost in the morass of the New Age. But this would be a mistake.

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Copyright © 31 January 2003 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada


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