Malcolm Lindsay is now an established classical composer, even though his lack of classical training means he's unable to write a classical score. However, with computers and technology, he is able to do this with ease. The magic ingredient is the score writing software, Cubase.
Cubase enables him to play various parts of a tune on the midi keyboard, which is then transferred from the midi keyboard into a computer and interpreted as a score. He can then print it out for musicians to play and enjoy.
As a music composer, how has your craft changed through the use of computers?
My craft has evolved because of technology. I am not classically trained so without access to midi and computers I would not be able to create scores and parts for classical musicians to perform. I would still be involved only in pop and jazz.
Do you feel that you would be able to compose without computers?
Yes but it would be very difficult to interact with classical players.
We saw that you use Cubase for musical notation, how critical is this for you?
Access to a notation package for me is essential. It doesn't have to be Cubase, but it works for me.
What other things can it do?
Using Cubase you can also record sounds directly into your computer, turning it into a mini recording studio. There are also now a whole range of 'plug-ins' that can be added to Cubase giving access to any musical and studio effect imaginable.
Do you use all of its functionality, or do you think different people get different things out of it?
Its theoretical functionality is unlimited! I only use it for midi and scoring, and use other software for recording.
Do you use your computer for other things?
Yes - for my accounts, but I also run another business which provides domain registration and web space.
You also have a website, does this generate any new work?
Yes, my contacts with Mexico, USA and Moscow have come directly through my website.
Do you think websites are useful?
Very, since it's a show case for what you do, and if used in the right way can generate interest.
Some of the work that you have done was with multimedia artists, what was it?
I have taken part in various cross media events - one example is 'Positively Forth Street', a Scottish Chamber Orchestra production. In this two computer artists a video artist and a photographer, created images to be projected during a performance. During the performance, poetry was read by Richard Jobson and music performed by a string quartet.
What do you think of the fusion between digital and analogue media?
Difficult question since in some areas the division has disappeared (e.g. the pop world) and in others there is a battle going on (e.g. photography).
What do you think the future is for musical composition on the computer?
Very bright! I notice that children now have access to notation software at school, and I heard some of the rather impressive results.
What has happened since we spoke to you last year?
I've been working with the BT Scottish Ensemble on an education project based in the Gorbals, Glasgow, and have been awarded the title "Best Unsigned Jazz artist in the UK" by Sennheiser. This took me a little by surprise since the track I submitted to their competition was the first jazz I had recorded for 15 years. I'm now working on the rest of the CD! I'm also working on part of a mass for choir, solo voice and harp, and have done string arrangements for the band Delgados.
Computers have empowered Malcolm; could computers empower you, too?
Take it further
If you're interested in the implications and applications of music technology, why not investigate Open University course The Technology of Music? Included as part of the course is a kit for making experiments in sound and versions of Adobe Audition and Cubase software.