At this point I doubt if anyone reads this thing, but I have decided to attempt a return to the rigour of blogging in order to update the world as to the comings and goings of my life.
The main purpose of this return however, is to force me to get routine in my writing, particularly my composing. I tend to go for far to long without putting pen to paper as it were (I usually write straight into my computer) and so end up with massive block when I do finally decide to try write something. Consequently, I have decided that I will endeavor to write something every week at least, whether I have any grand ideas or not, and work on either sketches, miniatures, movements, or even sections of a larger work.
I have also decided to inflict whatever I write upon my poor audience, if not in published score, then at least a brief discussion or description of the work. This way I can assess how my writing and motivate myself to get a certain amount done during the week. As I often write at the weekend or later in the week I will endeavor to blog somewhere in Monday-Wednesday bracket.
Anyway, enough self-proscribed rules. I will now put a little update of my work over the weekend. Please read and leave me comments, ideas, requests and suggestions.
Well, as a little mini-project I have decided to work on a little setting of the traditional mass. Starting with the Kyrie, I am going to attempt to work through each movement in about a week or so (longer if necessary). I am using the traditional Latin text, as it is always fun to remove the constraints of understandability in singing, but retaining the meaning of the medieval texts.
Starting with the Kyrie, I spent a good chunk of my weekend playing around with chromatic and non tonal clusters. The atmosphere is quiet, still, but ever so slightly restless. While obviously not diatonic, I tried to experiment with various modes and scales, and build scales out of perfect inversion and sequence of contour. Using the SATB choir means that semitones and chromaticisms (in the original sense of the word: colour) are deliciously crunchy, and can maintain an etheriality that a percussion ensemble or chamber group often cannot.
The hardest area for me when writing in this style is developing structure. Often I will listen to a work and notice how poorly structured and thus boring it is, and so I am always conscious of the direction and construction of the work as I begin it. With this i started with the opening statement, which defined the style, tonality and atmosphere. I then had to experiment with the layout of the work. As I was trying to write a piece that did not directly follow the conventions of Mozart, Dowland, Bach and all the boys I didn’t feel that a motific based structure was particularly applicable. As such I tried not to use ‘statements’ of themes and motifs establishing a pattern, but rather let a series of interlocking ideas flow forward loosely. I suppose the closest literary style would be a cross between chain-of-consciousness and the haiku. Eventually I ended up with a parabolic arc of a structure: starting and ending in unison with pitch/range expanding and contracting to fill the space. The texture also thus waxes and wains.
It was only after writing the piece that i found the unisons that start and finish the work are a tone apart. I am not sure what I think about it: either the piece should have some stronger unity and depart and arrive at the same point, or I make the step a motif for the mass setting as a whole, having at least some thread tying the whole work together.
I am not sure if I will continue this style throughout the larger work, but I have genuinely enjoyed writing in a way that is not attempting to draw from any existing style, but just writing as i see fit. I am hoping that as this blog progresses over 2010, I will gradually see the development of a distinctive personal style. I can tell I’m moving towards one, but until i have great things to say, I will practice my language until i can write without thinking.
After all, music is a language.