Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Composer's Diary

Following up on these two previous posts, I've had a chance to talk with three of the people who told me they found my music very moving - a cousin who is practically a brother, a nephew-in-law, and a close friend from college days (50 years ago!). They all listen to a lot of music, but as a rule, not a lot of "classical" music.

Two used the word "accessible" in describing my music, and that's about the highest compliment I can get, as that's probably the number one thing I'm going for when writing music. In music therapy step one is engaging the client. If you don't get that done, nothing else you do matters. So in composing I want the music to be something the audience can immediately enjoy and be interested in, which is just another way of saying "accessible".

They all mentioned the fact that their knowing me had a big effect. One said he thought that knowing I was the one who wrote the music got him to listen more closely than he might have. Another said it was the fact that he knew someone who could compose music like that was what moved him even more than the music itself.

Other feedback which is interesting is that the second movement of one piece is a total standout of all I've written. It was written for a friend who witnessed the firebombing of Dresden as a small child, and is one of the few things I've written that was meant to convey a particular feeling, in this case that of a lament or requiem. What's interesting is that while she feels it does that wonderfully well, my cousin, who has bird dogs that move with incredible fluidity and grace, said in reference to that movement, "I had visions of my beloved dogs coursing gracefully across the Montana prairie, with your music as the backdrop."

So to sum up - even though I wrote the music, and performed a lot of it, and then talked to people I'm close to about how it affected them - I'm still baffled as to how and why it creates the reactions it does.

I know that when I hear a piece of my music played for other people the first time, I have the sensation of being in a waking dream and wondering if others sense just how revealing it is of my inner self. Then over time, I can't believe I wrote it and it seems to have a life of its own apart from me.

The best I can come up with for what's going in is that I rely nearly completely on my intuition when composing, and that when things work well, the music triggers intuitive reactions in the listeners, and that those reactions can have little to do with my intentions and/or the reactions of others.

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