Interview with Paul Doornbusch

Paul Doornbusch is a Melbourne-born Australian compose – the author of a book documenting the first computer music.He is known for researching the origins of computer music in Australia.He works mostly as an algorithmic composer, but occasionally engages in peripheral areas. P. Doornbusch has examined the mapping stage of the process where structural data becomes musical parameters. There are not so many composers, whose commitment to the technical possibilities afforded is so closely matched by a compulsion to exploit the expressive potential unleashed thereby. Musicologist Ona Jarmalavičiūtė talks to the musician about his career and creative work.

What are your thoughts about the structuring of the creative process?

I think composition started with the idea, precomposition is just the early stages of composition. Score publication, recording, etc is not really post-composition.

What are your thoughts about this quote: “Works of art have been compared to icebergs: what is visible is but a small part of the whole. An artwork might seem to exist in splendid isolation, but that impression is misleading. Cultural products inevitably arise from a context, a submerged landscape that is often not easily accessible”?

I think it is a reasonable statement.

Which part of creative process would you see as the peek of an iceberg, and which the bottom?

The part of the creative iceberg above water is the score and performance, the part below the water and invisible is the composers work, developing, researching and writing the piece.

Do you have certain patterns, structures when it comes to your creative process?

I will spend a long time developing the idea, to make it as clear and focused as possible. I will then work on a way to express that idea as clearly and elegantly as possible.

What is the most fun and the most boring part in the compositional process?

Most fun is the part I described just above, the idea and how to realize it. Most boring is the scoring – I still write with pencil and paper!

Define inspiration – does it exist?


How do you usually create a new idea of a piece?

Yes, although I have written several pieces that use concepts of continuity and fragmentation as an underlying theme.

How does the process of forming an idea looks like?

It’s fantasy, imaging sounds and how they may develop or go together.

How do you transform the abstract idea into material – sketch, notes?

Yes, sketches and notes. Writing things down in some way is an excellent way to clarify an idea.

What form do your notes and sketches take?

Handwritten text and drawings.

What is your purpose of music sketching?

To clarify the idea as much as possible.

What do you do to get into your creative zone?

Think about music and sound.

Can you see your finished product before you start it?

Yes, usually.

How does the initiative process of music making looks in your creative process?

I will imagine an idea and then make notes and sketches.

Please describe your state of mind when you are creating something


How do you know when a piece or project is finished and needs no additional work?

After the first rehearsal.

Do you critique your own work? Explain.

I am constantly critiquing my work, during and after the process.

Do you identify with your creative product? Explain.

Yes, it is a product of my imagination, so I identify with it strongly.

Thank you for the conversation!

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