Published: 20 June 2017

Interview with music composer Ray Gibson

Ray Gibson Composer

We recently caught up with Ray Gibson – a guitar-playing music composer from Lytham St Annes who is hoping to graduate from our Music and Popular Music course this summer.

How did you get into music?

“I was surrounded by music as I was growing up. My dad listened to a lot of Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd. I asked my dad if I could learn to play guitar and he said yes. These days, I’m teaching my dad how to play. He gets frustrated because he thinks, ‘If Ray could do this when she was 10, I should be able to do this.’

“I was around 17 when I decided I wanted to go down the music route and began to think about it more as a career.”

Tell us more about your compositions.

“I’ve written a lot of music for student films and that’s led to other more commercial work, such as the video I did for Claire House. For the student films, I’ve collaborated with media students from Liverpool John Moores University.

“At the moment I’m composing a piece for Late Music – a concert series based in York. Having applied via their call for submissions, I’m now creating a composition that encourages audience participation. Once finished, members of the audience will be able to choose what they want to hear during the performance and direct the players.”

Are there any projects you’ve worked on that you’re particularly proud of?

“Two projects stand out. The first was a student film called Limbo. I really enjoyed writing it and got to work with live musicians for the first time.

“The second project would be Catalyst. It’s a piece for piano, string trio and clarinet and it was performed as part of the University’s Lunchtime Concert Series. Hearing my work played live was terrifying. I was 80% certain how it was going to sound, but I couldn’t 100% tell. I wasn’t sure how people were going to react either. But it went really well and people came up to me afterwards and told me how much they enjoyed it.”

What are your top three tips for composing music?

“My number one tip would be not to be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. My second tip is to listen to different types of music. Embrace things you don’t tend to listen to a lot. Finally, keep writing. Even if you don’t think what you have written is very good, you will learn from your mistakes.”

Which composers do you admire?

“I like Peter Gabriel. I really admire Danny Elfman – the composer for Nightmare Before Christmas. Sometimes I like composers because of what they stand for more than their actual music. For example, I really like John Cage and the ideas he represents, but I’m not that into the work he created.”

What do you plan to do after graduation?

“I’ve just come back from Rome and am now working on a couple of composition jobs. After that, I hope to stay in Liverpool, at least for a year or two, and figure out my next steps. I need to decide if I want to pursue composing music for films or composing music for me. To help fund that, I’ll get a part-time job, ideally in the arts industry.

“It’s an exciting time, but it’s also scary. I’m definitely looking forward to the freedom of writing what I want to write.”

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One thought on “Interview with music composer Ray Gibson

  1. Babs Gibson-ward

    Hi Ray,
    Your article is very interesting, I enjoyed reading it as I have dabbled with composition for flute. I am currently completing the MMUS in Performance at Liverpool, and like you, am wondering what lies ahead.

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