“When you come to a fork in the road…take it.”  – Yogi Berra

Working on String Quartet No. 6: Rapid Eye these days.  It’s the last of a cycle of six quartets, and as such it has a lot of baggage to claim.  First of all, it has to function as its own entity, it has to be a piece that stands alone.  At the same time, it can’t ignore the fact that there were five predecessors, all tackling similar themes, all leading to this conclusion.

Working on it got me thinking about some of the differences between life and art.  In life, you choose a path, or a path is chosen for you, and you take it.  As soon as you commit your first step, you can’t take it back.  You can, of course, switch paths at any time, but you can’t undo the time you have spent pursuing your initial track.

In art, though, things are a bit different.  Multiple paths are possible, simultaneous multiple paths can even be attractive.  This is nowhere truer than in music, which sometimes seems designed for simultaneous tracks heading for different horizons.

Right now, Rapid Eye has two movements, each starting from the same musical gesture, each heading off in its own independent direction.

We can all relate to the narrator in Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken, who laments (then takes pride in) the unchosen path.

Art, though, gives us options that aren’t available in other facets of life.  Through art, where there’s a fork, the cake can be both had and eaten.

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