Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A love of stones

C'est fini.  I think I have finished my piece - more or less - pending further refinements and editing - unless I change my mind again.  This piece has been driving me round the bend for a while now.  Things would go swimmingly and then I would lose the thread and the vision would start to unravel.  It started off being about one thing and now it is about something else, but also still about the first thing, kind of.  I wanted the piece to be about moments but the moments became bloated and over-written.  And then they were pruned into something different again, and again.
There was one notable evening when I very nearly gave up on the whole project - 'I can't write music, I've forgotten how, I am pathetic and talentless and clearly deluded' - that kind of thing.  I vented at my partner, the air was blue, then after a cup of milo and some calming words several helpful realisation were reached.  (i) There is no point giving up now because it [writing music] will only get harder if you don't keep doing it.  (ii) It wont seem so bad in the morning.  How true.
I knew I wanted the piece to be in small sections, with the spaces between (notice a recurring theme?) being significant.  I also wanted the piece to be about a process of de-cluttering and simplifying, each smaller section reflecting stages in the process.  The image of a path of stepping stones came to mind - each stone with a shape and character of its own but part of a larger function.  I scribbled in my note book
"... idea that transformation, change, growth, happens in the spaces between... kids grow in their sleep; the mind/subconscious at work when we sleep.  The spaces are significant because this is where thought / reflection / awareness happens and this enables growth..."
And again I am drawn to the Japanese concept of 'Ma', particularly as it is reflected in Japanese stone gardens, such as Ryoanji in Kyoto , where the placement of stones is carefully judged, with equal attention to the spaces between the stones as well as the qualities of the stones themselves.  I love this idea.  So I think the piece is about the careful placing of musical moments in stillness and time.  Which is what I wanted it to be all along.


  1. i love hearing how you write music, the doubts, the rearrangements, it's an awful lot like novel writing. and i love that you reaffirmed your original intent at the end of the post.

    and the photo is beautiful and entirely relevant.

  2. forgot to mention, i've collected beach and lake and riverstones my whole life...i feel them, smooth in my hand, rearrange them consider them, possibly at times even meditate upon them on often. window sills, sheleves, srfaces everywhere stones mark my trail through my home. shells, too.

  3. Yes, there is something very beautiful about stones, quite comforting or something. I've changed the photo to one that I took of some rocks in our garden - instead of the mac screensaver version!
    Hope your rewriting is going well.