Sometimes a piece completely comes together in one go. Not that it’s all written in one sitting (that does happen sometimes), but sometimes I’ll be walking somewhere and say “this happens, then this happens, then this happens for this long, then this instrument comes in, then the second thing I thought of repeats,” and I’ll run home and write it down and the notes seem to fall right into place and everything is good to go.
Other times absolutely nothing comes to mind, and I sit there with a blank piece of paper or at my piano and press keys or write dots and basically cross my fingers. Usually that only happens when I try to block out time to be productive, such as “today at 3 o’clock I’m going to compose something.” I usually then sit at my desk and write a lot and the next day decide it’s all bad and throw it all out.
Moon Songs has been an interesting combination of these two conflicting ways of writing a piece thus far. I was driving home one afternoon and sang the entire first movement, I think without even turning off NPR, then pulled out my phone which had a voice recorder and recorded myself singing it, then wrote it down when I got in and that was that. That was a little while back now and I’m still totally happy with it.
The fourth movement is going something like that too, as is the third. For the third the text kind of demands some sort of symmetry, so I went to my piano and played a bunch of chords in which whenever one voice moves up, another moves down the same distance, and then played them backwards, and it more or less works. I’m just adjusting it to fit the text now, and deciding whether or not what I’ve got is a bit too simple.
The second and final movements are killing me. I decided that, after the opening, the second one should be energetic and have lots of fast motion and stuff like that. Beyond setting a tempo and coming up with a kind of vamp on the piano, everything else I’ve put down feels like I’m just throwing notes at paper to see what sticks. It sounds perfectly fine, but doesn’t really have any larger direction or meaning or whatnot, besides sounding nice and fitting well enough. I don’t know if those are very good reasons to be writing music. The final movement I haven’t even looked at yet. But there is a chance of it being fugal, or at least having a lot of canon, and some real slow ending chords. That’s where all that stands.
In other news, I had another concert in Berlin last night, and I heard it went well. Cool! I’d like to get back there if I get the chance, that city was a lot of fun.
I’ve signed up for and started an electronic music course at LA Community College. I know enough to press record and make some noise in a studio, but for the most part everything I know has been from pressing buttons and seeing what happens. It’s really nice to have a sort of graded structure to learn this stuff, and though it’s already two classes in I already feel like I know my home studio better and can work more efficiently.
Finally, Trader Joe’s now has these microwaveable buffalo chicken meatballs, and they are awesome. I’m going to go eat some.