Saturday, April 27, 2013

Lost Thread

For all my engagement with formal experiments in my music, usually involving extensive planning, research, development, design, calculation etc., as often I just compose from brute force, drawing a continuous thread of music which starts someplace and goes wherever it (through that mysterious combination of habit, taste, caprice, and imagination) happens to lead.  But such unplanned excursions carry more of a particular risk than the planned journeys, as they depend — at least for me — on having a great deal of continuity in the compositional time and environment. When that continuity is broken, the thread can get lost and sometimes irretrievably so. Then you're left with fragments (which could be useful), outright abruptions (which could be useful), or fragile, tentative, questionable, or even broken continuities (which could be useful as well: think exquisite corpses.) (But could be useful is not necessarily useful.)

A broken heating pipe is never expected and the pipe (yes, it would have paid to have had copper instead of steel pipes!) that broke in our house two weeks ago unexpectedly interrupted a piece I was making that had been following precisely such a thread.  The damage to the house was, fortunately, minimized — wallpaper and flooring, and, interestingly, the 8-volume set of Wagner's writings got soaked beyond repair — and the process of repair already set into motion, and the weather has been warm enough that we could make do without heat, but all of the hectic and inconvenience of calling and organizing everyone and everything necessary to return to normalcy has put my piece in exactly that unplanned hiatus. I lost my thought. (What was I thinking?) I lost the thread. (Where was I going?) Time lost, continuity gone, no chance of reconstructing a plan when none existed in the first place.

So now, I play through the music I had made so far and wonder what to do next?  Do I file it away in the sketch box or drop it altogether? Do I analyze my own music and try to invent a plan, after the fact, from which further developments may be built?  Or do I just start when I left off, brute force after brute force, accepting whatever continuity — or lack thereof — circumstances now offer? How can I not be optimistic about this opportunity?


Charles Shere said...

Let the piece go. It will fall into your subconscious, where it will be free to follow its own star. If it has anything of value to it, it will reappear when you least expect it. You may even recognize it.

This happens all the time in Mozart.

Darryl Iorio said...

It definitely sucks when you’re in your stride and get suddenly interrupted, enough that you lose your concentration. And plumbing breaking down can really disrupt you enough for that. Though it is a good thing that it was fixed before too much damage occurred.

Darryl @

Unknown said...

I think you have to regularly maintain your pipes, Daniel. That’s just so you won't get distracted from doing the more important stuff. In case you don't have spare time to check on your plumbing, you can hire somebody to do it for you. I guess you don't want another 8-volume set of Wagner's writings soaked beyond repair. :)


Unknown said...

Its been a while, Daniel, and I wonder if your heating pipes are already fixed. Winter is fast approaching so you better start inspecting them again. You never dreamed of being frozen inside your cozy home this coming holiday, right? Heh! How are you now? :)

Clarence Corlett @