Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Process of Writing Music - Can There Be a Greater Mystery?...

Among my usual pursuits is the very occasional event dealing with composition.
The pursuits I have been actively involved in are:
Public performance (until some four years ago), musicology, theory (including specific involvement in harmonic and polyphonic analysis),  arts history, and  pedagogy (which I enjoy the most).
Which means, of course, that the art of composition is at the bottom of my list of priorities. I very rarely write, and only for  a particular person or event. The greater part of my life has been involved with about only a dozen or so compositions. In my young years I wrote large numbers of pieces, which ceased upon my realizing that there was much more that I could actuate in the field at a far higher level.
Of all my pursuits, the only aspect which involves  a personal 'wrestling bout' is composition. Strangely, I have never really enjoyed the process - it has always felt rather 'foreign' to me; almost as if I have been forcing myself to shove my consciousness into an area of 'comfort' while writing.
In addition, an uncanny feeling arises veritably every time I sit down to compose; that is, a feeling that someone outside of me is moving my pencil. I almost always feel that when ever an idea pops into being, someone, or something other than  me, is writing the idea down - it is a most uncomfortable experience. And yet, as the ideas hatch, there is a form of some excitement or anticipation that forms.
In other words, I am not comfortable when I compose.
Are we not our own  greatest mystery?
In spite of the above, a  number of my works for unaccompanied violin appears  on YouTube, performed by an established violinist. His name is Ricardo Odriozola, and this man should be heard - he has much to say.
And I like what I hear - HAS to be the performer, not the music. He is a wonderful violinist, and has recorded much in his career.
And the mystery continues for me, when I read, in letters of Mozart, his awe at what he is able to do. Without a trace of ego, he is asking (to paraphrase)  "HOW can I do what I do? How could  that symphony be committed to paper so quickly?"
Or Beethoven - in his Heiligenstadt  letter, he begins with thoughts of suicide, but ends with determination to give to the world the results of the power that had been given him.
And Brahms - destroying some of his own work that dissatisfied him.
I'm not in any way, of course, comparing myself to these great composers. I am merely pointing out how that indefinable power  can  form  such defining results; or in my case, induce me to  come up with a list of priorities within the art I  have become   so much a part of.
Like with Horowitz, who, at the beginning, really thought of becoming a composer (yes, really!).
But, listen to his  "Valse Excentrique"  and be glad he changed his mind!
Just having fun...          

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