Saturday 31 January 2009

Tax day

Oh...and I had to do my tax return today... online filing for the first time - novelty! Izzy had quite a boring day.. (went to manchester to buy a bluetooth dongle and headphones). Astrid in London dealing with some sad news. Life goes on. And so do the improvisations...

Chromatic piano

It's possible that harmony is everything... once the harmony is sorted, everything follows. Here's a short harmonic piano sketch.. chromatic.. using jazz tritone substitution, but arpeggiating it, with golden section rhythms. It was easy to do.

Friday 30 January 2009

Simple Quartet

This is interesting. Something very simple, but minor variations in accompaniment. And it was slightly less effort (which may or may not be a good thing!). Concert with Izzy tonight to see Nick singing in the Halle. Very Good.

Thursday 29 January 2009

Choral piece today

This is like the quartet yesterday... but I was interested in a static top harmony and playing around with different roots...


This is from yesterday - again, like all these sibelius 'improvisations' nothing's finished, and the ideas come too quickly. Strangely, though, I'm getting something out of doing pieces quickly and having an end-point (sticking them here). It stops me getting too bogged-down (which can easily happen), and I can move onto the next thing. What I suspect will happen is that I revisit these pieces at some point in the future...

Also, I've been playing with ArtRage.. Izzy loved it.. here's her picture...

Monday 26 January 2009

Another test piece

When I started experimenting writing stuff quickly in Sibelius, this was the first piece I worked on. Took more time over it, and thought initially that I would manipulate the sound with Audacity. I think, on second thoughts, it stands reasonably ok as it is...

Rapid idea-flow/Bagatelle

God it's early... (about to go to harlech.. just taken Astrid to early train). I'd did this composition a few days ago. Was thinking of the rapid changes switches in mood and material that you sometimes find in Beethoven (the Bagatelles, for example). The ideas come thick and fast when notating stuff - faster than with an improvisation: changing gear is not a problem; sticking to a gear is more of a problem!

Saturday 24 January 2009

Collaborative Creation

This evening Astrid wrote a poem on 'night' and I wrote some music. Took about an hour. The first piece is the music I wrote independently of the words... Then put the words to it (second piece). The poem follows...


I wish I would sleep better at night.
A blue and golden bridge to oblivion.

At night I am alone.
Once in a while I am not.

I am not alone. I am awake. Small thoughts
enveloped, systematically softened in cosmic vaults.

I close my eyes again.

Small thoughts become luminaries, witness to toil
and tumble.

Aeonic fixtures, never forgotten.

And I thank you that nights are longer than days.

Wild Piano Piece

I'm getting more into the habit of doing composing in Sibelius in the same way as I have been doing improvisations.... This is a 'wild' piano piece I wrote yesterday. It took about 1 1/2 hours to do (bit of cheating at the end). Something different today. Been to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua with Astrid and Izzy. The sacrifices we make for our children!

Friday 23 January 2009

Ok.. so it's now later (about 2 weeks!)

I had a conversation with Dai at a concert last week about art, self-expression and control. There is some conventional thinking about what artists (or in my context, composers) 'say', and how it relates to their technique. "what it says is said through the technique" is the conventional wisdom. Further, "develop technique and you develop your voice". But we then get technically impressive, but fundamentally 'empty' works - all very clever, but what does it mean? what does it say?
Then there is the complexity of actually 'getting the notes down'. Improvisation here is slightly less problematic (although there's lots of technique there too).

The problem is that when people talk about 'technique', their conception may be overly analytical: just getting the notes down is not the whole of technique, or just thinking about the notes is not the whole of technique. Technique is also managing your routine, your equipment (paper, computer, etc), your emotions, your social engagement, etc, etc. Master all this and you will find your voice.

But what is the mastery of? (and this is where my conversation with Dai took off). What is its purpose? To make art? no - I think - that is the by-product. It is the struggle for control forced on the artist because they are perturbed by things that those who aren't artists aren't.

Thursday 15 January 2009

Art is a struggle for control

I will write more about this later!

Thursday 8 January 2009

Doing stuff with PD

So no more piano, but there's lots of cool stuff I can do with software.. Had a go with this.. Astrid reading her poem "experiment" and using PD to do some unusual sounds which I wrote to a file (writefs~), and then tidying up in Audacity. I took an old video of me playing the piano and pixelated it. It's not been a good couple of days.. my indecision has been quite damaging to others. Must learn from this!