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Composer in the Spotlight
by Michel Khalifa, february 2009
‘Mayke Nas poses questions, many, many questions. When she had to write a piece about the future of concert practice, she sent a list with dozens, or possibly hundreds of questions.' (...)

In love with sounds
by Joke Dame, september 2008
‘The moment you are in a hall and you are profoundly moved is often inexplicable. It has to do with high quality or an ingenious invention. On such a moment you feel: this is it, this is why we, all of us, are making music.' (...)

Perhaps I am an occasional composer
by Anthony Fiumara, november 2006
The other day I had to give a talk
about my work, about what I am
doing as a composer. I suddenly
realised:  maybe I am an occasio-
nal composer. I do not mean (...)

Keeping one's promise
by Makis Solomos, july 2004
In listening to your music and
talking with you, I have the im-
pression I understand the diffe-
rent facets of your mental and
musical world, yet their (...)

10 reasons to compose
by Thea Derks, july 2003
Only this june she graduated at
the Royal Conservatory of The
Hague. Even so, Mayke Nas al-
ready composed for the tele-
visonprogram 'Reiziger in (...)

Oorsprong, jaargang 4, nr 3, july 2003, Muziekgroep Nederland
Only this june she graduated at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague. Even so, Mayke Nas already composed for the televisonprogram 'Reiziger in Muziek' and Asko ensemble. In the International Gaudeamus Music Week and the Suite Music Week there will be premières by the Nieuw Ensemble and Soil Ensemble, and also this may Reed Quintet Calefax played 'Entrez!' as a prelude to a much larger piece.

By Thea Derks

Her music titters on the edge of sound and noise, but now and then puts a firm fist on the table as well; often there's a comical side to it. Mayke Nas doesn't like over-seriousness, but playfulness and ambiguity. She explores the bounderies of music with fearless energy and imagination, that also characterizes her personality. Instead of a biography, she sends two scores, a cd-rom and a link to her weblog. On it we find thoughts and reflections like "A puzzle of which half of the pieces are missing: thát is a real puzzle" and "Sturgeon's law: '90% of everything is crap'". By ways of illustration she sends ten pictures of her hands counting to ten on the keys of the piano, along with the same amount of reasons to compose.

1. Stretching time
'Composing is a way of manipulating time: finding a way to structure it. I'm good at stretching time, I'm always late [even to our appointment, so that we miss the rehearsal of 'Entrez!' by Calefax - TD]. I'm too optimistic. If people call me around the time of a deadline asking me: "Where is your piece?" I enthousiastically reply that it will be ready in two days. I really believe that when I say it, but of course it often takes longer in the end. Most of the time my pieces are finished right before the première, but once I missed out completely with a commission from the Schönberg Ensemble. That is still haunting me.'

2. Searching for trouble
'I have asked colleagues what they find the best part of composing: looking for an idea; finding an idea; choosing the material; questioning the way how to treat it; the crises you have to go through; the process of rehearsing, or the performance itself. Almost everybody mentioned the initial phase. For me too, the moment of searching is the most important. Daan Manneke said it like this: "Only when you have found your problem, you can start formulating an answer".'

3. Number-fetishism
'When I choose structures to build my music on, I choose repetitions of, for instance, 7, 9, or 11 times, never 6, 8, or 10. I hate those numbers. I have got no idea why, that's completely irrational. You work with numeric proportions all the time, proportions of duration, pitch and such. Some mathematical proportions are beautiful in theory, but don't work musicwise. So if I design a strict series of notes based on numbers, it will only function as a blueprint; I always trust my ears.'

4. Crazyness
'You must be crazy to compose. When I started writing One way bedroom for harpsichord solo, I thought I would just simply write it. But I worked on it day and night for six weeks in a row. That's my optimism again. I thought: I'll write some lyrics; I'll make a video to go with it, I'll make a series of interactive electronic sounds. A healthy person would stop at some point, but I just go on.'

5. Promises
'An important drive to compose is the promise I made to someone to deliver a piece. It's not about something I promise to myself. Of course I make things on my own initiative, like DiGiT #2 for piano à quatre-mains, but my output is mostly triggered by outside demands. I hate to disappoint people, because I cherish the personal contact that comes with a commission to write music.'

6. Neurosis
'With that I mean the enormous drive to create. That you work all through the night to realise an idea. If I don't create - that doesn't necessarily have to be music, it can also be film or text - I feel lost. Sometimes I ask myself if it is useful what I do, but in the same time I am convinced that art makes you a better person: it helps you to break patterns of expectation. That has an effect on your social life as well.'

7. Sex, drinks & well-baked goose-liver
'I don't do drugs, but I like wine and love good food. Composing for me is strongly connected to bodily treats. You make appointments with musicians during dinners and after a concert you go to a bar together. You get to know each other really well, because you have to solve all kinds of problems together. Therefore there has to be room for partying. After a première I often cook a three-course meal as afterparty.'

8. Not being good for anything else
'For a while I asked myself if I really wanted to be a composer. It is a very difficult job. You have to deal with a lot of insecurities and stress, and on top of that there already is a lot of good music. Then a friend of mine told me that he once thought of becoming a truckdriver because he had the same doubts. The principal of the conservatory said to him: 'Then you will take the place of someone who can't do anything else.' When I am stuck again, I think of that story: you have an obligation towards your talent.'

9. To have a 'aussergewöhnlich lustig' idea (free after Stockhausen)
'Karlheinz Stockhausen has written bookshelves full on his well thought-through composition- techniques. Everything is there for a reason. But the other day, bassoonplayer Alban Wesly took part in Orchesterfinalisten, in which he has to lift his legs at certain moments. I asked him why, but he didn't know and approached Stockhausen. He answered: 'Because I find it extraordinarily funny!' I find that marvellous: composing is also about intuïtion and weird ideas that do not have to be accounted for.'

10. Not to sleep
'That has a double meaning. On the one hand I hate the lack of restful nights when I have to finish a piece, on the other hand I enjoy to work during the nighttime. In daytime there is a constant restlessnes: you hear the traffic, you have to do some shopping, the phone rings and there are letters to be answered. When it becomes dark, the city slowly comes to a halt and I can finally concentrate: there are no more excuses. Sleeping is also a metaphor for standing still: I don't want to let life pass by unnoticed.'