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Friday, December 11, 2009

more than a momentary pleasure

A couple of months ago an email arrived in my inbox with the subject "call for scores: momentary pleasures" - enough to make me curious.  This was an open invitation for composers to write a piece of music for piano solo, of up to four minutes in length, in any style - the only stipulation being that the piece had to be composed within a single day. The whole idea seemed perfect - a single day is about all I can devote to composing at the moment.  I filed the details away for when 'the day' became available, and Monday was the day.  Writing a whole piece in a day was a fantastic discipline.  I had to think through a lot of ideas ahead of time, work out my plan of attack, get myself in the right frame of mind, drop the kids off at creche, rush home and START WRITING.  And I did it.  I wrote a five minute piece that I had to edit down. The ideas were there, things felt a bit rusty at first but I applied myself to the task at hand, working with an intense focus and discipline that I had forgotten I was capable of.  At the end of the day I was fairly exhausted but the sense of achievement was fantastic and I think I have written something good.  So, for anyone who is feeling apprehensive about launching back into work, I can recommend this approach.  It was great having the external directive to 'write a piece in a day' - another version of the deadline as inspiration/motivation - but the other option is to just do it.  Whether or not the piece I wrote is selected for performance is in a way irrelevant.  The task gave me the jump start I needed to get back into writing properly, to finish the piece, to regain some confidence and remember that amazing feeling when you finish a piece of work that you feel proud of.  It was also a chance to draw together some of the strands of thought that have been preoccupying me of late - ideas about space and silence and simplicity and also something about the depth of feeling for my children.  And it may seem strange but in my twenty years of composing music, I have never dedicated a piece to anyone - until this piece.  Here is the title and the brief program note required for the submission of pieces:

a million moments
for Eleanor and Freya


Composing is a pleasure I have had little time for since the birth of my children.  I have given my time to them with love, while carrying ideas of music around in my head, ready for the time when I could write them into pieces.  This is one of them.  A whole day to write seems a luxury when once I may have squandered many days writing in circles.  A focussed mind and necessity are the mother of invention, and for this I thank my children.  A momentary pleasure is easily eclipsed by a million moments of love.  

3 comments:

  1. Congratulations!

    And now you've dipped your toe in, it won't be long before you're swimming in the deep end with all your old confidence.

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  2. I like the idea of making 'a piece in a day'. It requires discipline and a harnassing of relevant musical/sonic thought and feeling in the brief time allowed. Writing about your composition process and your experience of motherhood is valuable. I respect you for putting it out there.

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  3. Thanks Melanie. Hopefully there will be some more compositional processes to write about soon.

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