Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Just another ordinary piece of music: let it go.

I'm a hard critic of my own work.  Over the past few weeks I wrote a solo viola piece, in three movements, sonata-is, even.  It's workmanlike, crafty, even, in the Hindemithian sense, but not much more. (Part of the problem may have come from composing directly into a notation program, which can encourage making music that behaves like known music.) I like the second (slow, to a mutating ground*)

and third movements (fast, in square-root form) well enough and have some substantial doubts about the first, and while the whole might be useful for teaching purposes, to be honest, the piece doesn't add up to a compelling and memorable concert piece.  The question is does it not yet add up, or will it never add up?  And: is the amount of work required to make it work worth it?   My sense is that I didn't go into the piece with a distinct and clear enough idea to make a compelling piece, and what turned out instead was more a piece of habit than of invention, just more repertoire.  And — as far as I'm concerned — we're served so much repertoire these days, that just more repertoire is not much needed.  Nevertheless I do still have an ambition to make a solo viola piece, just so long as it does something more than than the habitual or the ordinary. The work done in the first movement will be let go completely, some of the other movements may get salvaged (but not necessarily for this piece) and I'll start again from the scratch, looking, listening for a musical idea that is more convincing, more urgent.

* I'm from California, a place where the ground is known to move, so if my ground basses are instable, changing over time in a certain way, I'm excused.


Charles Shere said...

" (Part of the problem may have come from composing directly into a notation program, which can encourage making music that behaves like known music.)"

Yes. I've found that to be the case. I'm irritated that I can no longer force myself to write with pen and paper; the fact that afterward it has to be transcribed at the computer makes such primitive sketching seem inefficient. But that's where the fun is, and the lucky accidents, the serendipity.

Another thing: the computer so often forces regular meters, fully written-out notation, etc., etc. So much beauty was found in the imperfections of the paper; so little can be found in the imperfections of the computer software.

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