Earlier this year I posted about how writing wasn’t going so great… well, more like awful actually – at least that’s how it felt a the time. Today I got back into writing again. Even better, I finished something. So how did that happen?
As it turns out I’d already finished something, I just didn’t know it at the time. I’d started with the chord shown below which combines three triads a semitone apart Gb on G on Ab. I liked the crunch this chord has and I could score in such a way as to provide plenty of clarity for players and instrument sections.
I then took some elements from the chord and created some melodic lines like these:
Somewhere in this process I wrote this little waltz theme:
This is when the problems began. I was stuck trying to find a way to meld these ideas together. I really liked the ideas by themselves, but I couldn’t find a way to get convincing from the waltz theme into the compound chord.
My working title was It Cometh… and in order to try and get a handle on the form of the piece and to provide a sense of structure to my writing, I wrote a story line for the piece. People and dancing and a monster slowly approaches. Obviously then the waltz theme is the people dancing, the compound chord would be the final “scream” when the monster arrives. I even wrote a waltz for the monster to dance to (in a vague reference to this classic movie scene). The story was nice, but I still couldn’t get to the final chord ina convincing way. After leaving it for 6 months, today I found the solution. I simply abandoned the chord and the material designed to transition from the waltz theme into the chord. What I was left with was a nice little waltz in rondo form. Happy Days!
The takeaway – sometimes you have to abandon ideas no matter how much you like them because they just don’t fit.
Let’s just say, it’s not going well. My last 3 pieces were knocked back by publishers (as is their right to do) and so far this year I’ve managed to complete a grand total of…(drum roll)…nothing. Sure I’ve started lots of pieces, but I’ve not actually managed to finish any. Not for lack of trying mind you, but I just seem to get STUCK.
Frankly this blog post isn’t going much better. I write one sentence then spend 5 minutes debating what to write next. This is my third attempt at this sentence (yes, the one that says “this is my third attempt at this sentence”). I start, stop, change my mind, can’t quite figure out what I’m trying to say, have a mental debate, start, stop…well you get the idea.
That’s pretty much how my writing is going as well. Before I spend another few hours and 50 words agonizing over why I’m having trouble writing anything, it’s probably more useful to try and answer this question:
What am I going to do about it?
Well my solution right now is to try to write a blog post instead of writing a piece of music. (This isn’t exactly a stellar effort at a blog post, but if you’re reading this, at least I managed to post it which is something at least). My next bunch of ideas are:
- Listen to some music
- Analyse some pieces I like
- Keep writing. Write anything. Don’t worry about finishing, or if it’s good or bad, just write stuff
- Work through a harmony book (Vincent Persichetti’s Twentieth-Century Harmony to be precise)
- Lather, rinse repeat
I figure sooner or later things will change, hopefully sooner…