Robin Downie


The music of many contemporary composers is often described as ground-breaking, innovative or challenging. These are no doubt admirable qualities, and are certainly features much approved of by most music critics. But there is a large constituency not catered for by music of that description - musicians in amateur orchestras and choirs, or those who can play instruments or sing up to the standard of around Grades 6-8, and who would like to try new music, which is manageable with their skills, and not unpleasant for their families as they practise. Robin Downie's music is of that kind, perhaps describable as contemporary domestic with a slight Scottish flavour. His main career has been as a philosopher (Professor of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow University) and his philosophy of music is that we are hard-wired to understand both language and music with a certain grammar. His music is structured by this grammar, although its contrapuntal textures, and a desire for occasional special harmonic effects, require many grammatical lapses! The works consist of songs, music for piano solo, for piano and violin, for violin solo and violin duet, and for brass. There is also choral music, some to be performed at the Cathedral in Imo State, Nigeria. Performances of other works have been by brass players from members of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Texas, by Glasgow University Chapel Choir, by Stirling University Choir and by professional chamber players at University and other recitals. CDs and sheet music of the works are available from the Scottish Music Centre.