Dr. Greg Caffrey discusses his captivating Music Network Commission 'Caprice for Trumpet in C & Guitar.'

Dr. Greg Caffrey discusses his captivating Music Network Commission 'Caprice for Trumpet in C & Guitar.'
Dr. Greg Caffrey shares insights into his innate connection with music, the complexities he faces as a composer, and the creative journey he embarked upon for his Music Network commission 'Caprice for Trumpet in C & Guitar' featured in the upcoming April tour.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your music?

I was fortunate to study classical guitar from a young age, only because a lady who lived beside my primary school offered very cheap lessons. By the time I got to secondary school opportunities to study music had disappeared, due to the circumstances of The Troubles and my school’s location in a ‘challenged’ part of the city. However, music was always part of my life, even when not studied formally. As an adult I found an opportunity to study guitar again, with some very important teachers, and to study music at Queens University Belfast – a place I never thought I’d be able to access just years before. My training, therefore, is a curious mix of the formal and the intuitive. This is something I’m grateful for in many ways. I hope it’s something that impacts positively on the music I write.

Tell us about your new commission for Music Network and what inspired you to write the piece?

The prospect of writing for trumpet and guitar is an unusual one. I can’t think of another duo with this instrumental makeup, nor have I ever heard this combination of instruments perform together. The obvious issue for a composer is how to balance the instruments dynamically. An obvious solution is the use of a muted trumpet. When I think of a muted trumpet I immediately think of the great recordings of Miles Davis, a performer for whom the sound of the Harmon mute almost became a trademark. It is presumably impossible, therefore, for me to not be inspired in some unconscious level by this association. As a classical guitarist myself I feel quite at home writing for this instrument, and it is here where I can be most intuitive. Inspiration can, and does, result from the formal working out of ideas on paper, but for me personally, when dealing with the guitar, it’s more likely to flow from the possibilities presented by the instrument.

What is the process of musical composition like for you?

Arduous, not usually enjoyable (until I get to hear the works performed) and often deeply confusing.

Do you have a favourite composer/s and what is it about their music that you are drawn to?

In relation to this piece, Igor Stravinsky is a composer that I admire very much and who’s rhythmic language perhaps may well have found its way in. But a composer who I absolutely love, though there is scarcely a trace of any influence in this piece, is the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu. I consider him a teacher, although I never had lessons from him, but many years of studying his scores and recordings has had a profound influence on my work more generally. His music takes its time to unfold. It is beautifully colourful, detailed, and honest.

What would you consider the most challenging aspect of composing music?

Writing what you want to write rather that what you feel others expect you to write, or what you feel people want to hear. Finding a voice that is truly personal and expressive.

What is your favourite thing about making music, and how does it make you feel?

Making music is about hearing your music. That’s where I’m likely to get enthusiastic, in a rehearsal or at a performance of my music. Conceiving and preparing the score is just like putting together an instruction manual. It’s such an important process, but hardly something that could be called enjoyable.

Where can we hear your music?
Where can 'Caprice for Trumpet in C & Guitar' be heard?

'Caprice for Trumpet in C & Guitar' will be performed by Matilda Lloyd & Alexandra Whittingham as part of our Music Network April Tour, click the link below to find out more and get your tickets.

They will be performing in Belfast, Donegal, Galway, Dublin, Waterford, Cork & Kerry between the 20-27 April 2024.

Find out more and get tickets to our April Tour.

Would you like to find out more about Dr. Greg Caffrey?

For more information about Dr. Greg Caffrey and his work, visit his website via the link below.