D. E. Mc Carthy is a living composer from Ireland. He was a masters student of minimalist composer Donnacha Dennehy, founder of the Crash Ensemble.
McCarthy’s early musical output was influenced heavily by American experimental music, specifically the scores of John Cage and La Monte Young. On the year of the 50th anniversary of La Monte Young’s Compositions 1960, Mc Carthy featured several of his performance-art works in Dublin’s National Concert Hall Kevin Barry Room. One such work was reported in the Irish Times as involving the composer sitting beside a blowing haIrdryer while reading, with the music being the sound the hairdryer was making from being in contact with the wooden table.
After a profound spiritual crisis, the composer embraced modernism in a rejection of tonality. He wrote some symphonic works based on algorithms, specifically a piano concerto, some symphonies, and a work for symphonic wind ensemble which was an exercise in orchestration set by Dutch composer Louis Andriessen. Part of this output was some ultra-minimalist works for example a work for piano consisting of just the low A, crescendo and diminuendo, and symphonic works based on similarly limited pitch choice. One such work, his second symphony for string orchestra, is a programme-music score based on a tale of Irish Mythology written by Lady Augusta Gregory called The Last Of The Great Men, a story of Fionn Mac Cumhail and the Fianna warrior class of ancient Ireland. Another is a work inspired jointly by Quattro Pezzi Su Una Nota Sola of Giacinto Scelsi, and the figure diagrams pertaining to instrument resonance in Rimsky-Korsakov’s book Principles Of Orchestration. In it the instruments play only the most resonant notes on their instrument, which depending on the instrument is the highest or lowest playable note, or both, and somehow the composer managed to form melodies and homophonic passages though the performers are often just playing one note for the full length of the score.