NEW MUSIC TUESDAY | Composer Ryan Davis' "Colour You Like" (Arr. Viola & Electronics)

This new version of the piece for viola and electronics was premiered at the 21C Festival of New Music on April 22, 2021


Composer Ryan Davis talked with The Violin Channel about this new version of his original composition.

"I don’t think of myself as a gifted poet or lyricist, but I had written a haiku inspired by vivid imagery of primary colours colliding in the darkness," Davis said.

"The refrain 'ignite the night, that colour you like' was adapted from this haiku. I was experiencing considerable loss and personal struggle amidst all of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, and Colour You Like is a work that focused my feelings. I have always been deeply fascinated by colours, both in visual and sonic terms, and wanted to write something that highlights what I can do on the viola in a new and fresh atmosphere. I think this piece is the most 'me' thing that I’ve created to date, and the response has been surreal!

"I was overjoyed to be chosen as the first-ever violist in the Rebanks Family Fellowship & International Residency Program in Toronto, where I moved in late 2019. One of the significant opportunities of this fellowship is a recording session in Koerner Hall, a truly sublime space for music performance. I took a risk in choosing to record something that I had created, rather than a more conventional repertoire selection.

"I really wanted to do something different — provide an offering that most deeply reflects who I am as an artist. It was an absolute blast working with the Royal Conservatory of Music to make this happen. Even with so many things not going as I had hoped in 2020, this recording session was a dream realized, and I remain so thankful for the experience to have recorded on one of the most electrifying stages.

"While I had a general sense of the work in mind, I was tinkering with various aspects right up until the recording date. One of the great excitements of working with loop pedals and electronics is crafting layers. The danger of looping is relying on something formulaic; repetition can be both an asset and a detriment. I meticulously tried different orders of layering, switching up the harmonies, and creating contrasting beat patterns, until I landed on something that I felt was alluring and expressive.

"I really hope that listeners will enjoy hearing the viola in a new way. My musical tastes are quite diverse, and I wanted this piece to weave sounds of classical, folk, electronic, and hip-hop in a unique manner. On a less technical level, I hope it provides a small source of light and wonder, given all of the obstacles that everyone has faced during a tumultuous time. I use the moniker Radia when I create music, and I’m extremely excited to be working towards my debut album, which will hopefully be coming out at the end of the year.

"I want my music to be distinctive and purposeful, but I must acknowledge that I’m only here because of the immense support and guidance that I’ve received from my family, friends, and teachers. Ultimately, if you like what you heard, there’s more music coming very soon!"