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? Thomas DeLio
I have worked extensively as both a composer and theorist throughout my career and see no separation between these two complementary, mutually enriching activities. My work as a theorist has been profoundly influenced by my composition and vice-versa.
I view the theorist as one whose role is that of helping to understand the innumerable ways that musical designs reflect our ever changing, ever deepening understanding of the world. A truly important theorist will sensitize us to the many new dimensions of sonic expression that we continually encounter in the work of our most original creators (past and present). Clearly, I do not view the role of a theorist to be that of one who merely formalizes what is known but rather that of one who opens us to the unknown.
Similarly, the really interesting composer is one who creates musical designs that attempt to corral his/her innumerable experiences of the world and—at least for a moment—make some sense of them. The analytical studies of works by such modern masters as Xenakis, Lucier, Feldman, Carter, and Scelsi that I have pursued over the course of my career have helped me discover my own unique concerns and expressive needs and ultimately make my own sense of the world through my composition.