Lied Time

I’ve been contemplating this idea for a while and I think now is the time to pull the trigger. I’m a fan of the “forced creativity” kinds of exercises in which I have some kind of limitation and then need to compose my way out. Back in 2007, I started a podcast in which I composed a new electroacoustic piece each week. It went on for 86 weeks and it really helped me a bunch. Not all the pieces were good but each one functioned as a compositional etude. I wanted to really dive into electroacoustic music in a bigger way and the podcast gave me a vehicle in which to work my craft. A few significant pieces were direct outgrowths of my podcast, including Blue Jaunte and my video collaboration with Carla Poindexter Carnival Daring-Do.

Last summer, to prepare for teaching counterpoint, I did the whole Summer ad Parnassum thing. There was less of a time crunch but the idea of constant effort on a single topic was still prevalent. I use the blog now as a teaching tool, encouraging my students to see what I did in certain situations. Also, I want them to see why I make the choices I make. It isn’t the most scholarly thing on two wheels but it does the job.

Now we come to my newest wacky scheme. This one scares the hell out of me. I’m calling it Lied Time. In an effort to write more/better for the voice, starting in September I am going to compose a new vocal piece each week. I’ll put proof of this work up on this very blog (PDF of scores, pictures of staff paper with scribbles, whatever I can do). The public display is an important part. If I just say I’m going to do this, I won’t. If I make a public pronouncement, I know I’ll have to stay accountable.

A few disclaimers: not everything is going to be good. I’m going to do the best that I can. The goal is for me to build in experiences, successful and otherwise. They will be honest attempts at pieces, even if the end product seems a little rough around the edges (especially notationally).

Now for the fun part: are you a vocalist? Are you a poet? I’m going to need materials. I’ll be culling my poetry collection, setting whatever meets my fickle brain’s fancy. I’ve been gathering information on my vocal friends (ranges, likes and dislikes, etc.) so I won’t be writing these pieces in a total vacuum. If you’d like me to write something specific for you, please let me know!

This project, I’m not going to lie, scares me. I’m a lot busier now than I was during the Unsafe Bull Podcast days. I think with successful time management, though, I’ll at least go down swinging.

Here we go…

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  1. Matt Sprengeler
    Posted August 30, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always thought that Go Down Swinging would be a good name for a ska band.

  2. Posted August 30, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Well this may or may not strike you as a viable idea, but you might consider the following:

    There is a listing of scripture readings for the church calendar published in three-year cycles. Here is the one for the current church season:

    There are readings from the old and new testaments but also a Psalm and these are generally in verse form and suitable for setting. Most of the mainline Protestant denominations and the Catholic church follow the same list.

    Anyway the point being that at the end of your project you would have a collection of material suitable for use in a church setting throughout the year – something that might be useful to the many thousands of church musicians out there and worth publishing.

  3. Jay C. Batzner
    Posted August 31, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Paul, thanks for that link and idea. To be honest, I hadn’t considered religious music at all. Being a pretty devout atheist, I’ve always felt uncomfortable writing religious music. It seems somehow dishonest for me to do it. It certainly would be a challenge, though, and it could yield some interesting and practically useful results! Thanks again.

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