What role has theory played in your compositions and how important is it for people to know the theory behind the music in order to appreciate it? Cindy McTee

Cindy McTee

Elaborate theoretical systems can be found in my work, and they are always employed as a means to an end. I can think of two reasons why I might feel the need to explain my music in theoretical terms: first, to provide the listener with information designed to enhance the experience of hearing a work for the first and possibly the last time; and second, to share my pride in the work’s less obvious but essential (and hopefully elegant) structural processes.

I would like my music to communicate an integrated and balanced approach between formalism and spontaneity, objectivity and subjectivity, brain and heart. To borrow an idea found in Rollo May‘s The Courage to Create, what I fear most about complex theoretical tools is that their overuse may “serve as a buffer between us…and the deeper dimensions of our own experience”; their orderliness and rationality may prevent us from connecting with the more intuitive, irrational, and ultimately more interesting aspects of who we are.  

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