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PostPosted: Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:04 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2005 12:45 am
Posts: 535
Location: Ithaca, NY
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Tuesday, January 28

Inexplicably, we are still in January, still in our polar vortex - below zero weather stretches ahead for some days. Heard a bird bravely singing the other morning, like a flute in the sun - as out of place in our changing winter landscape as one could ever imagine. I looked but saw nothing, just a lone voice without a visible physical body...

Wrote a page of piano notes for Movement I, quiet eighth note triplets to accompany a flute melody - building after many measures, adding octaves in the right hand. Will continue the passage later, it is mainly written; finding the other tones and harmonies will not be difficult. Already the music is writing itself with very little help from me. Somewhat like the bird on our studio roof.

The main decision now is whether to complete the first Movement - or continue sketching out the entire piece. I am starting to more clearly hear the Dance of Movement III, and thinking I should write it all down on paper before it disappears...

In truth, I have not even decided whether this piece will be three movements - or one piece written in different sections, united into one movement. More a Fantasie than a Sonata. I find supporting arguments for both, and inwardly am writing both versions - but soon I must consciously choose between them. Undoubtedly, on a deep level of my being, the decision has already been made...

As a Fantasie, in one movement, there would be no long silences between movements, no full completion of ideas at the end of movements, no big mental and emotional changes in the listener from movement to movement, i.e. there would not be three separate pieces offering three worlds, three separate universes for the musicians and listeners to traverse... And yet, there is such Beauty in taking the listener to different inner and outer worlds in this way, where the audience can roam a bit, get familiar with the landscape, delve into themselves, bask at leisure in that particular inner realm before the next movement begins...

If written in one movement, as a Fantasie - as a composer I would construct the piece very differently. The overall form of the piece would be more challenging and inventive, more creative, and more interesting to write. Written as a whole in this way, the listeners would follow the path set before them in one grand sweep - more as though astride a magic carpet that takes off and then eventually lands. The overall effect would be more spontaneous and free - more a reflection of the images, the poetry that describes the music...

And after writing all those thoughtful words in my small notebook, I am no closer to a decision than when I began.

And so I will instead continue writing motives, melodies, harmonies, and rhythms on empty sheets of manuscript paper - and leave the decision until the music itself declares an intention.

Wednesday, January 29

Added a few lines of flute melody to the eighth note triplet motive of the piano (from yesterday). Extended the piano line.

All I have settled on, in terms of the overall form, is that I will keep the order of the images/poems I wrote intact. But if a Fantasie, a one movement piece, the overall form will be more inventive and intricate, and as a composer this intricacy has its own appeal. If one movement, the first two poems and their themes and harmonies and rhythms would alternate - and the dance would come last, with possible hints of the other two sections within the dance.

This version would be one afternoon, or morning, or evening, or day in the forest, one experience to live, enjoy, savor and then remember...

As three separate movements, the images/poems could happen anytime, unconnected, possibly at different ages or stages of our lives. Here the listener can savor the message and beauty of each movement. Although the poems were written to suggest a connection of events, a linear experience.

Another possibility: combine the first two poems into one movement - and then perhaps only a short pause before the dance, i.e. essentially two movements but without a true break between. This would allow innovation to the overall form in Movement I, with the two musical images alternating - and have the feeling of a two movement piece, yet remain inherently and basically one entirety... one movement... A Fantasie...

Meanwhile, I am trying to find a piano motive that will represent sunlight coming through the leaves - and two realms meeting for an instant, the mundane world and the clairvoyant one...

Thursday, January 30

Scribbled a few more crowded pages of notes in pencil across blank sheets of manuscript paper; new themes, new motives. Note heads and stems strewn everywhere as I run out of room on the page, new ideas inserting themselves in haste, like snowflakes borne on the wind, to be sorted out later, arrows everywhere... Still working on the first two poems, allowing the themes and motives already chosen to unfold onto new pages, new notes and stems traveling across the page like a painting in progress slowly covering the canvas... Performing or writing a piece - is a journey, as much a journey as taking a train to some distant city or town, holding your ticket and looking out the window at the hills and fields as they go by, still knowing where you started and also anticipating your destination, every click of the rails a heartbeat or breath...

Have more than enough themes and motives for the first two poems. The music for the first poem should be sparkling with sunlight and laughter, the second more mysterious, mystical. Most of the third poem, the dance, is already outlined in my head. The dance will be less complicated to write - although also fairly intricate compositionally, technically. Will begin with hints of the dance, and it will all gather momentum as it goes.

Decided late last night that this piece will be one movement, in basically two sections, AB - with section A alternating between the first and second poems. Overall a binary form, but A - almost twice as long as section B - and the B section might contain motives from A, fragments here and there to connect the sections.

Technically, Glimpses will be roughly ABA’ (possibly ABA’B’ or ABA’B’A’‘) - followed by C (the dance). Until I begin writing the rough draft from my sketches, I won’t know how many times to alternate the first two poems, or when/where to fragment them. At the moment all I have to work from is a growing stack of sheets of manuscript paper scribbled over with themes and motives and rhythms... It is still all a grand and exciting mystery, a treasure hunt...

11 pm.

Began jotting down a theme for the end of the Dance - in my mind at least, the entire piece is almost written.

Friday, January 31

In the kitchen earlier, having a glass of water - thinking that on one hand only composers can truly know the infinite possibility of music, and on the other, at times, what a difference one chord or even one note can make, especially in a melody line. To drop a melody line one step while writing, or to raise it even by one tone can change everything, everything, and everything. To step upward in pitch instead of downward could mean the difference of a train ride to Marseilles vs Moscow. And once you miss the stop at Marseilles, if an express train - off to Moscow you go, with or without your luggage and toothbrush...

This could be why composers can write easily, effortlessly for great stretches - and at other times fall into a heart-wrenching struggle over one chord or note. These seemingly small decisions can determine the outcome of a piece that is so vastly different from its alternate reality that it might as well be another country or universe, an entirely different sonata or symphony. And unless you are a composer facing the blank sheet of manuscript paper, this would be hard to conceive, this lost or gained world. In a sense there is always regret, both as an interpreter and as a composer - and I can only speak for myself here - for I well know the world's lost once I make a decision of this sort. In short, when composing or interpreting music, one cannot go to both Marseilles and Moscow, one must choose between them...

Perhaps, this is one reason why composers continue to write new music, the painters continue to paint, the writers continue to write - as a way of exploring those lost worlds, the fervent wish to help them into manifestation...


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