For Paul composing is a way of trying to understand little bits of the world and a way to point at the situations he finds intriguing in such a way that he can share that intrigue with others. He place emphasis on ideas, focusing on bringing together various elements to communicate those ideas, whether these are notes on the page or performers and audience moving and playing on the same stage. Paul calls himself a composer because it’s always felt like a good fit but he’s as likely to be found making a video or producing visual or performance based work as he is doing anything sonic. It’s not really important though because he thinks of it all as music. Recently Paul has been sharing his smaller works, sketches and work-in-progress on a weekly basis on his website: www.paulnormanmusic.com/n-o-v
Paul has shown both solo projects and interdisciplinary collaborations together with dance, fine art and theatre, across Europe. This has included the exploration of audience comfort through the use of compositional strategies that produce relaxing music when a space is too quiet in the interdisciplinary collaboration with choreographer Sebastian Mathias and Nino Baumgartner for the work maneuvers/groove space. With the Work Pointing at Things: It started when you read this, produced in the context of the Frankfurt LAB residency programme, Paul used text scores to activate the audience’s decision-making asking them to consider their choices through the performance as compositional. His recent work, Catalogue d’Emojis, produced in collaboration with Michael Wolters used the iPhones emoji keyboard as structural information for an interdisciplinary performance that applied different logics and approaches to each category of emojis whilst borrowing from Messiaen’s notion of cataloguing birdsong. An audio-only version of this work was released by Birmingham Record Company in summer 2019. Paul also collaborated with Leander Ripchinsky on the interdisciplinary Trennungssongs of Togetherness, which was shown during the Unfuck my Future festival at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt. This work saw the duo coax the audience into playing songs facilitated by game like structures. This created intimate situations with strangers where it became possible to reflect on aspects of ‘how we live together in Europe’, but without ever talking about it.
Paul has a PhD in composition from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and was fully funded by AHRC Midlands3Cities. His PhD explored the effect that decisions made in the composition process have on what is communicated to an audience during a performance.