An interview with 2019 Composer Development Program participant, Timothy Franklin

Composer, Timothy Franklin (photo credit: Cameron Jamieson)

Composer, Timothy Franklin (photo credit: Cameron Jamieson)

We sat down with 2019 Composer Development Program participant Timothy Franklin and asked him what the program means for him and what he feels he is getting out of the experience.

Timothy studied saxophone at the Queensland Conservatorium and has a background in jazz performance and composition, as well as free improvisation. He has published four albums in his career, to date.

What made you decide to apply for the Composer Development Program?

I’ve had a little bit of an interesting journey. I worked as a saxophonist for a long time, but had a change of heart in 2012, went back to uni, got a law degree and in that period didn’t really write at all.  

So it’s been a slow process since 2016, trying to develop again as a composer. Of course in the intervening time my tastes have changed. I was writing before I went to uni, for a small jazz ensemble project that I had. I’ve also written a couple of sets of piano miniatures, but very little for other settings.

So the program is an opportunity to add to skills development and of course every composer is excited to hear people play their music, which unfortunately is often logistically challenging!

Is this the first time you’ve written a string quartet?

I have another string quartet from a couple of years ago which has been published by Wirripang. They’ve picked up that string quartet, two sets of piano miniatures, a solo piece for flute and a piece for saxophone and drums.

Have you experienced any challenges in writing your piece for the Composer Development Program?

This one was more straightforward than some have been. I was lucky – a lot of it was composed during the holidays. I took a couple of days off work to actually finish the thing, because that’s what it needed. The main challenge was conveying the rhythmic information in a way that’s palatable. I didn’t really end up solving that, so I went with how I would count it if I were playing it.

I studied classical saxophone but I didn’t use it much after I left university. I learnt with Ken Edie, a drummer in Brisbane who has studied Indian classical music. So everything is drilled down to its most minimal subdivision and you have all of these different meters going on at once. It’s wonderful and a really very interesting approach to rhythm, but not one that easily transcribes to notation systems, particularly when you’ve got different rhythms being played by multiple people. So that was a challenge.

How have you found the workshop experience so far?

Really good! There’s always an element of trepidation because the piece is your baby so to speak, and it’s interesting having different personalities of performers and different approaches of performers. It’s somewhat of an unknown but it’s really wonderful hearing other people’s take and hearing other people try to find their way into my music, which is somewhat idiosyncratic.

Through the piece being workshopped, does it sound different from what you expected?

Not really – I think some of the tonal things that they’ve worked on have really opened up other areas. Because I don’t have a physical relationship with the instruments, sometimes I don’t have the language to convey what it is that I’m after.

Lastly, what does this opportunity mean for you?

It’s actually really wonderful! In my day to day work I have a fairly stressful job and one where you have to be extremely logical about everything. I’m always thinking about risk day to day, which makes it rewarding to participate in a program where creative processes can take a front seat.

Selected works by Timothy Franklin are available from Wirripang Pty Ltd

Click below for Flinders Quartet’s performance of Timothy’s composition, “The View from My Window - Raining”.