On the verge of completing a piece, I’ve tossed it.
I began the piece in early September. It was a high-concept affair. Actually, it hovered between two overlapping concepts, and I assumed that it would settle into one or the other by the time it was done. Instead, it just worked its way to completion, solid from a compositional standpoint, but oddly pointless.
With a few dotted-tees and crossed-eyes, I could have finished it off and sent it to the performers – it was slated for a February premiere – but I knew the piece didn’t really deserve their time — or the audience’s time, for that matter. Instead, I’ve begun a new piece, completely unrelated to the one I almost finished. This one is not hovering, it knows what it is about, and I’m pretty confident it will find its mark.
The experience of tossing a piece that didn’t find its true direction is unusual for me because I’m accustomed to trusting a growing composition to tell me where it needs to go. I’ve been through this process hundreds of times. Sometimes I know exactly where I’m headed; sometimes I am surprised. Either way, though, I am used to finding the focus of the piece by the time it is finished.
The fact that this piece never found its way is cause for reflection. As I said, it’s solid work, has a nice beginning, middle and end. It accomplishes, rather easily, the finite task of being a musical composition. But I need some time to think about why it didn’t end up being something more, when I had believed it would be.
If I ever figure out what happened, maybe I will fish it out of the trash and give it another go.