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Such pigeon holing can be useful to prepare people with the correct expectations for processing a new experience. The New Age label may even be somewhat accurate. However two things must be kept in mind.

First, it is immaterial in a certain sense what motivates a composer to compose. For example, how many people today can stomach some of the theologically extreme sentiments expressed in the cantata texts set by J S Bach? But that the musical, creative results are of the highest order cannot seriously be questioned.

Thus, for people who don't like ideas about Lemuria, Atlantis or Mu, or who reject magical thinking entirely, there is no reason not to listen to this music and allow it to speak for itself.

Second, and this returns to the very opening idea of this essay, I believe there are those two kinds of music and the pieces by Keith Barnard are definitely good.

An extract from the score of Keith Barnard's 'Angelic Nocturne'
An extract from the score of Keith Barnard's 'Angelic Nocturne'

In fact, they are remarkably magical. Barnard creates deeply expressive music with the simplest of means. Sometimes just a single note or chord placed next to another equally simple event. In a way this music is similar to the compositions of Morton Feldman and the Music for Changes by John Cage. For people who might look at the score, with its long held whole notes and wonder where the music is, I can tell you that it is in the living, trembling, vibrating sounds that these dots are converted into performance. This is why I will be playing a concert devoted solely to Mr Barnard's music on 7 February 2003 in Calgary, including the world première of The Mantric Energy of Silence. I think that this is serious and deeply expressive music.

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


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