Behind the Composer

When asked if I have a particular approach to composition, I don’t. Most of what I do is intuitive. The word ‘comprovisation’ is probably a better description for much of my output. I begin by improvising sounds and gestures, before selecting and notating for re-performance. The recording studio and the digital audio workstation are tools of my compositional process, especially when I compose music for the screen. 

The freedom of improvisation was there, when I picked up my first guitar, on the way to becoming a self-taught musician. Mimicry, emulation, and adapting what I heard became a springboard for further exploration – like the birds themselves.  It led to song writing and composing incidental music for theatrical productions. This pathway led to composing music for film and television. 

Nobody is an island. One is also what one hears. If asked about influences, I could be cheeky and say the entire world. The soundscape is also an ecology of sound, and its sound marks linger in the memory. 

My exploratory practices have resulted in musical hybridity nurtured by collaborative work in a tolerant and plural Australian society. My work is also situated between Asia and the Pacific, where performer-composers, improvisers and multi-instrumentalists can steer away from European music hegemonies.  

I have honed my discoveries through research into musical instruments – their construction, function, and cultural significance. If I were to compose music that revealed diverse, disparate sound sources, it would not be to produce musical syncretism for its own sake, rather to find and maintain personal music nurtured by osmosis.

Michael Atherton conducting at PHM Castle Hill, 2012.

Choral Compositions

Film Compositions

To purchase Michael Atherton's compositions, please  click on the website links below.