LGBTQ+ Composers Open Call: Finn Patrick McLean

Listen to a new work by Finn Patrick McLean, created as part of the LGBTQ+ Composers Open Call 

As part of our continuing partnership with the LGBTQ+ Music Study Group, we are delighted to share 'each sparkle and each spangle', a new work by Finn Patrick McLean. 

Finn Patrick McLean is a composer and performer based in Glasgow. Finn has worked with Psappha Ensemble, soundfestival, the International Percussion Institute and more.

'each sparkle and each spangle' is a work comprising three melodies for two guitars. The piece takes minute phrases from popular songs and recontextualizes them in an intimate setting alongside another separate melody for the other guitar - each detached from each other in key, rhythm etc. Despite this notational and theoretical separation of musical parts, they undoubtedly come together in consonance both harmonically and rhythmically at multiple points. This creates a kind of fragile and confused sense of continuity and togetherness. Fragile and confused, but continuing together nonetheless.

This work was created as part of the second nationwide call for new sonic works celebrating queer histories, stories and sounds on the British Music Collection – read more about the other works selected here. 

Finn Patrick McLean - 'each sparkle and each spangle'

Q&A with Finn Patrick McLean and Heather Blair, Creative Project Leader, Sound and Music  
Can you start by telling about yourself? How did you start to make music and what are your inspirations and influences? 

I'm a composer and guitarist from Glasgow. I started learning electric guitar around primary school, mainly playing cheesy emo riffs to my heart's extent. It wasn't till age 15 I was introduced to classical music and from there I studied classical guitar, switched about a bit with composition and now I do a weird melting pot of all these things. My main interests right now are in melodrama and domesticity and my influences reflect this, listening to a lot of Julius Eastman, the Microphones, Perfume Genius etc

You were awarded a grant to make this work as part of a specific open call for LGBTQ+ composers and music-creators. Beyond this project, what role has music played in the expression of your own personal identity? 

Music has definitely played a huge role in my relationship to identity. I mean, the first trans person I ever saw was Laura Jane Grace from Against Me on the cover of a magazine. When I was a kid, their music felt like this amazing secret space I could go to to think about these feelings I didn't know you were allowed to feel and music has continually provided a space for me to think through evolving feelings with a piece of fixed media.

What changes would you like to see for LGBTQ+ folks making music? Or for the sector more widely? 

I would like to see more space for thinking about historical queer music, alongside all these amazing important spaces highlighting living queer composers. I imagine something like a residency for living queer composers to research and reflect on the history of queer music and how their work follows, contradicts or bears no relation at all to it, I feel like that would be beautiful. I think as queer people, we can so easily get caught on a cycle of worrying about and celebrating the here and now that we sometimes don't get time to appreciate and love the queer people that came before us.

This work explores the way that queer people learn and grow with each other in what you describe 'non-systematic ways'. Could you explain a little more about that idea? 

I suppose, what I meant by that, was there's no one easy path to knowing you're queer and being able to accept and live in that truth. It's a cobbled beautiful mess of revelations. You find identity in bits and pieces of pop stars on TV, whispered conversations, films and whatever else before you realise the word 'gay' slots together all these minute things you've gathered over the years. And there's no end point to this learning and growing of identity. Queerness isn't a destination, it's a constant path of finding joy and happiness in who you are and your life. I like that about it.

What's next for you, or the project? 

I'm going to be releasing an album of a recent large work of mine soon - House Songs. It's a big personal piece exploring disease, loss and childhood through the physical objects of instruments present at the time of these events. 6 guitars and a clarsach to be precise. Me and my friend (and talented composer) Joe Strike gave it its premiere in April this year and I'm really excited to share it with more people! Keep an eye out.

You can hear more of Finn's music on Soundcloud

United Kingdom