Warning, somewhat unstructured mind dump to follow, candidate for deletion, etc.
I’ve been thinking (for about twenty years, really) of writing a bigger piece of music, something scored for orchestra. Trying to avoid the “s-word” here since that seems ludicrous for some reason.
I find myself, finally, with the technology to be able to do this. I’d never be able to get a piece performed by an orchestra, but I have software at my disposal that can be a fair proxy.
Beyond the tools, I know how to attack the problem in the large and I know the details: I know the sonata form, how to take a motif and develop it, how to recapitulate. I know how to arrange and score. I understand counterpoint and harmony. I have 100% of the tools I need at my disposal, both tangible and academic.
And yet I find myself completely trapped by my own mind at the start. I don’t have an idea I’m comfortable with yet. I’m not sure what I want to say or in what style to say it. I find myself still under the influence of a Composition professor at Northwestern whose disdain for Classical and Romantic notions of tonality was legendary. He’d go on and on about Schoenberg and Webern and their brilliant algorithmic approaches to composition, using generating functions and the like, and I felt like I was in the wrong building. I took music classes to get away from the engineering drudgery that was the rest of my educational experience. It was miserable.
I remember as we sat there one day, all of us students critiquing each other’s tone rows as assigned, and his scoffing at the traditionally modal and melodic entry of one guy in the class, a horn major. “Why did you do that?” he demanded of the student. “Because it sounds good?” came the reply.
Herr Professor told him to get out of his classroom. We never saw that kid again.
Now, this guy was obviously a first-order tool, yet I find myself at the trailhead of this little project and I hear him mocking my motif and kicking me out of his classroom, too. I realize this is completely irrational. Maybe I’m making an excuse and/or sabotaging myself before I start. I’ve been known to do both. But I can’t shake the idea that it’s not good enough before I even launch. What the fuck is that? Where’s 20-year-old me when I need him, the kid who knew everything and was sure of the outcome even when he was wrong? At least he started stuff, and mostly finished. If it sucked, he dragged it into the trash can.
Maybe that’s the problem, the knowledge that this is going to take a long time, and to sit back at the end and to be less than thrilled about it would really suck. I dunno.
Anyway. I have half a mind to document this as I go, if I go. This may be the last you ever hear of it, of course. I have a lot of unfinished projects.