Sunday, January 2, 2011

V.S. Composing Motivation

I've gotten back to work on Louisiana Sashay and am thinking about not doing anymore measure by measure commentary, but waiting until it's finished and put up audio of the computer playing it and make a few comments then. This post is to expand on something that was more allusively present than clearly stated toward the end of this post.

Back in the 70's a college friend developed a real talent for black and white photography. One time I asked him what it was that gave his photos a particular feeling consistency. He thought what I might be referring to was his notion that when one looks at one of his photos, there should be no sense of the ego that took it. As evanescent as that idea is, I knew exactly what he was saying and it perfectly explained what I was seeing (or not seeing) in his work.

Back when I was younger, the music I wrote, mostly imitative of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, was full of ego. Dylan's line, "little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously," comes to mind. Now, though, what ego that's present (I hope!) is just a reflection of how I go about playing the musical game I've set myself with the initial parameters of a piece. I'm never consciously trying "to say" anything. I just want the music to flow from its own nature, be fun for the players to play, and fresh to the ears of the audience. 

Having come of age in the age of angst, with academic atonalists trying to broaden my bourgeois mind and poseurs being trivially transgressive, all I want from my music is that it's fun and engaging to play. Fulfilling that simple requirement, for me, provides a much more valuable experience than trying to carry all that ego luggage.

Here's the last paragraph of the performance notes I sent out with the score and parts of Timepiece:

The feeling tone of the piece is meant to be completely
positive. No angst, anger or depression. Playfulness and
joy, yearning and reverence, exhilaration and celebration
were more of what I had in mind. If you (and an audience)
feel uplifted after playing it, mission accomplished.

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