At this point in my life, composing requires solitude, silence, space. The daily journey, strung out through a lifetime, to tap into the sounds that flicker around the edge of my consciousness calls for a dedication that is difficult to obtain in an environment with too many distractions. Most of my adult life I’ve been trying to establish the ideal setting in which to compose — no easy task, unless one is willing to forego much else that life offers.My dream studio would have a piano, a computer, a not-too-comfortable chair, a lushly comfortable sofa, and a pervasive quietude.

I lived alone from 1995-2003, coming very close to my ideal composition setting, though living in somewhat cramped quarters. Now my living circumstances are much more comfortable, but my composing space is no longer my sole province: it is primarily my space, but also shared with loved ones. Fortunately, these loved ones are respectful of my needs, so all I have to do is gently express those needs and the space is all mine, for as long as I require.

But ultimately I insist from myself the discipline and focus to be able to compose under any circumstances. This insistence dates back to my graduate days, living in a cramped, noisy studio apartment in Brooklyn, working three part-time jobs and commuting on weekends to Connecticut for a long-distance relationship. How to fit composing into that lifestyle? Dreaming about an ideal creative setting was definitely not the answer. I just had to train myself to shut out distractions, to establish a creative flow that was capable of feeding itself, without outside nurturance. Composing on a bus, on a subway, in the middle of the night – it didn’t matter, I couldn’t allow it to matter, or my work would come to a halt.

So now I am immensely grateful for the comfortable and supportive environment I have for composing, and I’m taking advantage of it to as full a degree as possible.

But I like to believe I could maintain my workflow even if I lost these near-ideal circumstances.

Still looking for that sofa, though.

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