Marc Yeats - Composer


His music is performed, commissioned and broadcast worldwide. Primary concerns are transduction, complex surface relationships, asynchronous and polytemporal alignments, contextual, harmonic and temporal ambiguities, polarised intensities, and a visceral joy of sound.

About Marc Yeats

Dr Marc Yeats (music composition)  is one of the UK’s leading contemporary composers with his works having been performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and stations across Europe, Asia and Australasia. Described by Peter Maxwell Davies as “breathtakingly original”, and Professor Stephen Davismoon as “one of the most prolific and influential composers and creative artists of his generation in the UK”, Marc’s music explores transduction, complex sonic, perceptual, asynchronous and polytemporal relationships, sonic flux, contextual, harmonic and temporal ambiguities, polarised intensities and a visceral joy of sound. You can find out about Marc’s work as a landscape painter by visiting his painting website here: Marc’s paintings

Marc’s music has received performances around the world including The Edinburgh String Quartet (UK), the Chamber Group of Scotland (UK), Psappha (UK), Geert Callaert (BE), the London Sinfonietta (UK), the Endymion Ensemble (UK), Paragon Ensemble (UK), the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (UK), 175 East (N.Z.), Sarah Watts, SCAW (UK), Sarah Nicolls, Federico Mondelci, Contempo Ensemble (Italy), Rarescale (UK), Carla Rees (UK), The Scottish Clarinet Quartet (UK), Symposia (UK), the New York Miniaturists Ensemble (US), Trio IAMA (Greece), Dirk Amrein (Germany) Expatrio (UK), Chroma (UK), Kokoro (UK), Consortium5 (UK), Gleb Kanasevich (US) Ensemble Amorpha (UK), Meridian Brass (UK), Syzygy Ensemble (AU) Chamber Cartel (US) Carlton Vickers (US), XelmYa (DE), Ian Pace (UK), Ensemble Suono Giallo (IT) the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphomy Orchestra (UK), the Hallé Orchestra and Chorus (UK) conducted by Sir Mark Elder, Tokyo City Philharmonic (JP) and Gewandhaus Radio Orchestra (DE), for example.

Marc’s relationship with the BBC is both strong and enduring, starting with a BBC Scotland broadcast by the Edinburgh String Quartet of his flute quartet more than 20 years ago. His first orchestral work – I See Blue – conducted by Martin Brabbins with the BBC Philharmonic, received much acclaim when first performed and broadcast around the same time. Following shortly after, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies conducted the premiere of PAGAN II, again with the BBC Philharmonic for broadcast on BBC Radio 3. This led to specific BBC commissions, including a piano concerto for Kathryn Stott and the BBC Philharmonic to open Piano 2000 in Manchester, and later, a solo harpsichord piece ‘Rhema’, performed by Mahan Esfahani and broadcast in 2010 by BBC Radio 3 from the Clothworkers’ Centenary Concert Hall in Leeds. Most recently, Marc’s timecode-supported polytemporal composition the unimportance of events for 22-players was premiered by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as part of Tectonics Glasgow 2021. It will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 at a future date. This work has also been selected by BBC Radio 3 as one of three works representing the U.K. at the 2021 International Rostrum of Composers in Belgrade. More information here.

Selection as one of just 10 to attend the legendary Hoy Summer School in 1994 brought Marc into contact with the late Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. At the completion of the course, Max was keen to support and promote Marc’s work and conducted his first commission with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the St. Magnus Festival in 1997. He and Marc continued to share ideas, and Max took a great interest in Marc’s visual art and compositional work with mobile technologies and a range of timecode-supported polytemporal structural approaches to composition.

Marc’s music is published through Composers Edition.

Control, Flexibility, Flux and Complexity: A Timecode-supported Approach to Polytemporal Orchestral Composition.

My current interests in composition involve creating fluid music that simultaneously brings together multiple, fully notated lines of material that operate in different, unrelated tempi, where notated material is fixed against part-embedded timecode read in conjunction with ensemble/orchestra-wide loosely synchronised mobile phone stopwatches that enable performers to reference their relative notational positions to their timeline positions in the music during the performance.

The subject of his recent Doctoral thesis at the School of Music, University of Leeds, (October 2021), timecode support provides a temporal framework that helps players maintain high degrees of structural and architectural cohesion despite the polytemporal, unsynchronised nature of the music. This polytemporal compositional approach explores the relationships between composer control (through notational signification – the instructions, signs and symbols on the page) and performer flexibility through mediation (how that notational signification is interpreted and especially how tempo indicators are mediated by players attempting to render specific speeds as indicated through precise tempo instructions). It is the flexible nature of the tension between composer control and player flexibility that produces flux, that is, a range of unpredictable (indeterminate) sonic outcomes brought about through the ever-changing contextual relationships of the material simultaneously mediated by multiple musicians. Resulting performances are never identical due to the shifts in these material contextual relationships – the flux produced – but do yield similar and recognisable versions of the original compositional model through the effective management of flux when using the temporal framework provided by timecode.

Download my PhD thesis free from White Rose Ethesis Online.

This flexibility produces performances that are always sympathetic and acceptable renditions of my compositional model – my blueprint – to deliver dense, complex, polytemporal musical structures. With no unifying pulse or beat and with each player following their own temporal trajectory, there is no need for a conductor. Each player, by reading the timecode in their parts in conjunction with their stopwatches, is responsible for their own pulse. They are their own conductor.

As there is no universal pulse-synchronisation there is no synchronised score produced for timecode-supported pieces. The flexible relationships between all instrumental parts cannot be usefully represented in a fixed and synchronised score format. Consequently, music is performed through parts alone. Therefore, timecode-supported polytemporal music for orchestra is conductor-less and scoreless with each musician performing in simultaneously independent tempi from parts alone.

This compositional and performance method offers new possibilities in writing and performing multi-tempi music by balancing composer control and player mediation to support structural coherence and flexible performance outcomes in through-composed orchestral music using managed flux to create complex sonic relationships. To find out more, visit here.

Music, Painting, Landscape and Me

Follow Marc’s story as he writes his new book titled Music, Painting, Landscape and Me.

Marc is making monthly videos following the progress of his book writing project, funded through a Continuing Your Artistic Development grant from Arts Council England. the videos are posted on The British Music Collection’s Spotlight pages and can be accessed by clicking here.

Would you like to become a patron and personally support my composition work through a regular monthly donation?

If so, you’ll be pleased to know this is now possible through Music Patron. To find out how to support me and more about Music Patron, click on the ‘support me on music Patron’ button. 100% of every Music Patron donation goes to the composer.