When I compose, I start with blank manuscript paper, pencil and eraser - sometimes at the piano, sometimes away from the piano. And then I just try to listen. "Listen" is not quite the right word. It is more of a listening/feeling/sensing/thinking movement. I work on getting down on paper something I like - a phrase or motive that I feel is complete. Then I keep expanding it and revising it, expanding, revising until I feel the piece is complete.

The techniques I use in composing are not ends in themselves but are used to help me generate a comprehensive, expanded and expressive composition. These techniques include pitch serialization (12-tone, 19-tone, 9-tone, etc.), inversion and retrograde, limited set theory, themes, motives, sections, development, transitions, repetitions and some extended tonal harmonic theory.

Currently, I am feeling my way into the use of microtones. I started using quarter-tones in a solo clarinet piece entitled Coagula which was performed in April 2006 by Enid Blount-Press at the "Concert for Peace." Last fall I wrote my first full-fledged quarter-tone piece - Zephyr, for solo flute. Now I am working on a quarter-tone piece for four instruments, expanding my use of quarter-tones to include harmonies.

If you would like to read more about my compositional processes you can read my article "hoc est corpus meum".


If you would like to play a vital role in creating an original piece of music, please email Harting to discuss the type of piece you would like to commission. You can reach her at

You may want commemorate an event, create a film score, set your poetry to music, or perform an original piece written for specific instrumentation — whatever the occasion, the commissioner-composer relationship can be a mutually enjoyable one.

Co-commissions are also possible, and each individual/musician/ensemble would be credited for sponsoring the new piece.

Financing can be creative and flexible, as determined by the scope and timing of the desired project. If necessary, payments can be made in installments. Nonprofit organizations have special opportunities for foundation funding to commission original music. For example, New York City dance companies can apply for a grant from the American New Music Center to commission new music for dance projects.

© 2005 - 2007 Julie Harting