I've really taken up some steam in "6 Pieces after Basho." it's a piece i'm writing for HS band with the following instrumentation
Horn in F
Percussion (around 3 players for now, though i'm writing a total of 5 parts...though, really, i think it can be covered with 3)
The idea is to take 6 haiku by Basho and put together 6 one minute pieces, each piece a complete idea. It's a fun exercise in limitation; limited the time, limit the content (i'm working really from 1 melody, 1 countermelody, and a short motive)
The first movement "Lighting Gleams/Into Darkness Travels/A Night Heron's Scream" i finished months ago. For the most part, i think i've succeeded with that movement. The second movement "The Old Pond/A Frog/Plop!" has been much slower going. I think after the success of the first movement, the second suffered from "not being good enough," comparatively.
A couple days ago, as i was sketching away, i realized that the movement wanted to be a passacaglia. So, i've gone with it. Yesterday was...not so good. i scribbled a lot. today was the breakthrough, the "AH HA!" moment when i figured out the orchestration of the bassline, how to move it around, and the "melody." I went to an old stand-by; take the main melody (in this case, a 4 bar passage from mvt 1), write it out in different transpositions (this time, putting it into the key of the song. Yes, it's "tonal" sue me. it changes the numbers a bit, doing that, but it's ok. it's tonality! it makes everything fit!), and then playing with it. I always start with the inversion, cause after that you have 4 ways of doing the melody quickly.
Then, i start playing around with it. So...it's about a frog. what if i leap from melody to inversion, skipping x amount of notes each time?
and, blammo, there's my melody, all jumping around, playful, kinda tonal, almost. lol.
Also, i have been having a great conversation with Speaks Coffee tonight about craft, what's important with writing, etc. it's always fun, comparing her experience as a writer with mine as a composer and seeing the differences between music and language.
Anyone who says music is a language obviously hasn't talked craft with a writer before. I see the differences immediately. like, when discussing divorcing ones style from analysis. I said it seemed like it was easier for a musician, possibly because we have such an insane amount of analysis. then, Speaks Coffee with a great question "but, do you think in music? I know you think in English, most of the time."
but its a great point. With music, our style is individually developed; on paper, in a computer program, in our heads...but, no matter how much we try, is it as engrained as English? I think ABOUT music a lot. I hear passages in my head, i sing to myself (talk to myself too), get rhythms going as i tap away. but i don't think IN music. when someone asks me a question i don't think "0 5 5 7 8 0 11 0 11 2 2 1 0" i think "well, that's a stupid question." Even when i think about music, its in english.
So...it's a good pedagogical thought. It's harder to divorce oneself from analyzing writing in a 1st person perspective- "this is how I would do it/this is how I would word this/your style is so [whatever] compared to mine." you're intimate with how you speak. You're intimate with you're vernacular. Just look at my writing. It's pretty damn near how i speak. Lots of rambling, short sentences, ideas tossed around all willy-nilly. lol.
and i usually an laughing when i toss in an lol.
It's something to ponder more...but when i've had some sleep. maybe some coffee. Right now, i better get a little sleep before tomorrow. I have composition workshop, and not nearly as much as i would have liked to show for the week.
But, the steamed pork dumplings were DELICIOUS!
and, there will be talk of esotericism vs. commercialism at some point...i'm for a happy medium, and let's leave it at that for now.