Hearing the inner voice - experiencing music from the inside
When I was 15 I discovered I could earn £6 a week by accompanying dance classes in my home town on Saturday mornings. On the way home I would buy an LP. Our local bookshop always had interesting classical records for sale. On one occasion I bought an LP of Michael Tippett's A Child of Our Time. This work is for chorus, soloists and orchestra and was a response to the second world war and Tippett's sense that the world had turned 'on its dark side'. It was overwhelming in its impact.
I later read that this work was influenced by Handel's oratorio The Messiah. I can remember experiencing the Messiah from the inside by singing it as a member of a chorus at the Endellion Festival conducted by Richard Hickox. Like many composers, truly formative experiences of music came through taking part in the act of making music. This sense of learning about music by experiencing it from the inside, by taking part, stayed with me. It was because of this experience that I could understand how Tippett learnt not from Handel's soundworld but from the music's inner voice, in other words its structures, shape, and its large-scale rhythms and patterns. Indeed, according to Ian Kemp, Tippett believed that 'such genres in their essence embody fundamental musical gestures and that their use should not be confused with a vain attempt to restore defunct manners...[and] reassert the vitality of opera, song cycle, and symphony'
These experiences caused me to become interested in how composers learn from their forerunners and indeed to ask whether composers have the voices of earlier musicians in their minds when writing music today that sounds new and relevant?
 Michael Tippett, A Child of Our Time, BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Colin Davis [l.p. record], Philips (p) 1975
 Libretto by Michael Tippett
 Ian Kemp, Tippett: the composer and his music (OUP, 1984), 157-158
 According to Kemp, Tippett believed that 'such genres in their essence embody fundamental musical gestures and that their use should not be confused with a vain attempt to restore defunct manners...[and] reassert the vitality of opera, song cycle, and symphony' Kemp in Grove / 9