||Martin Butler was born in 1960 and studied at the University of Manchester and the Royal Northern College of Music. In 1983 he received a Fulbright Award for study at Princeton University, USA, where he was resident until 1987. From September 1998 to July 1999 Martin returned to Princeton as Composer-in-Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study. He is currently Professor of Music at the University of Sussex.
His music is inventive and dramatic. Ingenious use of instrumental colours, a keen sense of rhythm, and some exuberant harmonies have meant that his catalogue of works have a distinct and readily identifiable personality.
Martin has written many works that are eminently suitable for setting to choreography. Particular works to listen to, however, are:
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- Jazz Machines - for ensemble. Commissioned by the London Sinfonietta and premiered in 1990, Martin suggests that "Jazz Machines tries to create a kind of 'machine jazz; jazz that machines might play, on the sly, when we're not listening".
- Going with the Grain - for ensemble. This work is cast as a mini marimba concerto, with the natural gestures and timbres of the instrument strongly influencing the work.
- Night Machines - a particularly unusual and remarkable work for tape, which fuses together a variety of thematic material to form this jazzy piece.
- Songs and Dances from a Haunted Place - for string quartet. This piece falls into two sections, the first a 'wistful fantasy' built out of the opening viola solo, the second an almost unstoppable jig.
- Tin Pan Ballet - for ensemble. The instrumentation is quite unorthodox, although Martin has adopted a rather more opposite compositional stance, choosing to treat the ensemble with as much smoothness and cohesion as one might a string quartet.