“There’s nothing quite like the high of hearing one of your own pieces played,” MU Professor of Music W. Thomas McKenney admits, “but to me the most important thing is the active, creative process itself.” Having internalized his teacher’s advice that music must be a balance of emotion and intellect, and that if you have too much of either one “things get out of whack,” McKenney focuses on both levels. His goal is to assure that “structurally and formally, a piece is going to work.”
“There’s nothing quite like the high of hearing one of your own pieces played,” McKenney admits, “but to me the most important thing is the active, creative process itself.” While he seeks to try to write the best music he can, McKenney believes his teacher’s advice that music needs to balance emotion and intellect. If you have too much of either, “things get out of whack.” Furthermore, “there should be a communication process in all art,” McKenney adds, an interactive process between composer, performers, and the audience. If one part fails, it negatively impacts the process.
“Music has to speak to the human spirit. That’s what it’s really all about,” McKenney states. The violin is a wooden box with metal strings, “yet, put in the hands of an artist, the most beautiful things in the world can come out of it.” Consider as well the human voice. “We could scream and say really nasty, horrible things to other human beings, or we could sing and make beautiful sounds,” McKenney explains. “That’s really what the human spirit is all about.”
One of the potentials of electronic music is the ability to imitate other instruments. When making electronic music, McKenney tries to compose sounds a person can’t make.