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New Complexity

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New Complexity

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New Complexity is a school of avant garde classical music dating from the 1980s. From its earliest identifiable advocates, the school has been associated with British composers influenced by the work of Brian Ferneyhough. Like all such movements, the impact of "new complexity" has extended beyond its territorial/national origins and has greatly impacted the musical thinking of musicians throughout Europe and the U.S.

It is characterised by complex textures, striking timbres, and an ever-present exploration of new models of musical form. The impact of the French "musique spectrale" cannot be overestimated.

Associated "members" of this school have included:

Richard Barrett
James Clarke
Chris Dench
James Dillon
Richard Emsley
James Erber
Brian Ferneyhough
Michael Finnissy
Roger Redgate


Dominik Karski (Australia)
Liza Lim (Australia)
Joël-François Durand (France)
Klaus K. Hübler (Germany)
Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf (Germany)
Aaron Cassidy (USA)
Jason Eckardt (USA)
Michael Edgerton (Sweden)

Few of these composers wholly approve of the term.

Though it is not relevant to the style of the music, New Complexity composers tend also to have very clear musical handwriting; their published scores are often facsimiles of the composer's manuscript.

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