A number of years ago, I found myself in a situation that called for legal advice. I met with an attorney and explained my situation. After listening in blank-faced silence, he launched into an incomprehensible response, full of jargony legalese. I tried to follow what he was saying for a couple of minutes, but it was impossible, so I stopped him and asked if he could please start over in plain English. He gave me a look of utter disdain, and in that moment, I thought, “Wow, is this the way my audiences feel when they hear my music? Are they trying to understand my ideas through a jargon that can only be grasped by taking years of music courses?” And I resolved never to let my language choices get in the way of the ideas I was trying to convey.

I went through a period of writing pieces in which I was absolutely clear about what I wanted to say, determined to find the simplest, most direct way to convey the central concept of a piece to an engaged listener. Although I’ve moved in many different directions since then, that motivation still has strong resonance for me.

I just have no desire to baffle anyone who wants to understand me.

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