The fourth in our series of posts about New Associate Composers, this week we hear from Dan Brophy. There are a number of composers who straddle musical contexts such as rock, metal, and classical, but Dan seems to be the only one who appears in his CMC profile photo (at the time of writing) in a Morbid Angel hoodie. After speaking with him about his musical interests and backgrounds it is clear that he has no interest in adopting a particular appearance for the sake of being read as a composer—in the contemporary classical sense of the word. So just how much does Dan love metal?
CMC: What got you excited about music at a young age?
Dan Brophy: My early musical inspiration falls into two musical categories: classical music and heavy metal. My grandfather was a church organist and pianist who played both classical and jazz music. Jazz music didn’t interest me, but I found the works of classical composers very interesting. This interest was amplified when my parents took me to see the Disney movie Fantasia every year. I Ioved all of the music in this movie, but it was specifically the Tocatta and Fugue in D minor by J.S. Bach, Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky, and Night on Bald Mountain that left a permanent mark in my mind. On the metal side, my brother and I were very much taken by the metal and progressive rock that had emerged in the early 80’s such as Helix, Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden, and Rush. We were introduced to these genres by several of our babysitters who would loan us their records or record a mix tape for us.
CMC: What was the most important music concert/event you attended?
DB: This one is hard to pin down. I’ve had many life-changing concerts/events in my life. In terms of extreme metal I would say the following: Morbid Angel on their Domination tour, Gorguts on their Obscura tour, Strapping Young Lad supporting their self-titled album, seeing Psyopus in Toronto, and Cryptopsy in Guelph with openers The End. In terms of classical/chamber music: Celso Machado in Hamilton, The New Zealand Quartet playing Ligetti String Quartet 1, a student performance of George Crumb’s “Voice of the Whale,” Otomo Yoshihide in Waterloo at the Perimeter Institute, and the KW Symphony playing Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra.
CMC: What is on your personal playlist?
DB: Right now I am listening to a playlist of newer extreme metal bands (most are blackened-death and doom) that my bandmate and bass player Dustin Smith has created for my wife and I. There are many incredible artists on this list, but perhaps the one I am most taken with at the moment is a band named The Howls of Ebb.
CMC: How is the field of composition changing, and (how) do you fit in?
DB: I think the field of composition is (and always has been) constantly changing with no singular definition. On one hand it is becoming more conservative (what does that even mean nowadays?) and on the other more inclusive of all styles. We are seeing a large influx of composers influenced by John Williams and the film music industry, as well as more pop oriented works being accepted in the “composition” fold. As far as how I fit in, I hope this shift means that the genres I am interested as a composer and performer in such as extreme metal and harsh noise will make their way into the list of acceptable styles for Canadian Council Grants! At the same time I hope this doesn’t mean that artists will jump on this bandwagon because they think it's the “in” thing to do.
Check the CMC community page regularly for more composer profiles! You can visit Dan’s personal page for additional information about his work.