Thursday, August 11, 2005
Two for Thursday night
Time to breathe some life into this thing. OK, I've got a confession to make. I call myself a composer, but I spend precious little of my time actually writing music. I could cry about how busy I am, but the fact is that the same was true when I was in college and leading an enviably commitment-free lifestyle. Recently, I completed my first new piece in over a year (a piece for my band).
Does it weigh on anyone else to identify themselves so strongly with something that they do so little of? I know that I am by no means typical in this respect, it's just the way it is. I'm not prolific. But I wonder sometimes--I've never been the kind of artist that just has to create, or else he will go crazy and die. When I have a clear idea of what I want to write and I am already well into a piece, composing can be quite pleasurable--but getting to that point is often nothing short of torturous. What I really enjoy, to tell you the truth, is the feeling of having written something. That, along with this silly but unshakeable faith that I have something unique to contribute, is really what keeps me going.
I guess I'm trying to decide whether this is "good enough" or not. I know that's a decision that only I can make, but I'm interested to hear if any of my thoughts resonate with yours.
A second topic for y'all, still on the subject of composing however: last year, when I had to write four new pieces in four months while working full-time and running tons of rehearsals, I learned a lot about my composing process. The main thing that I figured out is that composing is totally unlike anything else I do in my life. I'm a pretty moderate person; I like things like balance and nuance and so on and so forth. My style of working is to spend some time on a project, take a little break, spend some more time, take another break, pat myself on the back, and do something else. We're talking an hour here, two hours there, whatever. It takes a little longer that way but I feel balanced doing it, which is important. Composing is different. I've learned that if I want to get any real work done, I need to grab inspiration by the horns as soon as it appears and refuse to let go until it collapses in an exhausted heap in front of me. Every time my instinct tells me to take a break, I need to tell my instinct to take a hike. This is so unlike me, it's ridiculous. On the rare occasions that I sucessfully pull this off, I get a LOT of work done....and I also experience this strange, indescribable mania--that's really the only word for it--that accompanies the process of doing something to excess on purpose. It's as if I'm gorging myself on food until I throw up, or making a pit stop at the dry cleaners when I'm late for a rehearsal that I can't afford to miss. It's kind of like that guy who died after playing a video game for 49 straight hours. Does anybody else experience this? and does it freak you out as much as me?