Saturday, August 13, 2011

Write What Comes to Mind

On the plane to France, I was thinking about what I would say as an introduction to my presentation in Monteton about my process of composing music.  I noticed that I was thinking, but actually not writing anything down.  I needed to find a way to get started.  Sometimes, honesty is the best policy.  So I began. . .

“My pen does not want to touch the paper until I’m ready to say something profound.  But can I really get to that yet?  I probably just need to write and let it out and process things and only then (if I’m lucky) will something profound emerge.”

I continued to unsuccessfully string words together, and then came up with. . .

“I could just sit and think and not ever write because the profound thing has not come to me yet.  Or I could write until it comes, or write something down now that will allow it to come later.  Maybe it’s in layers, like the muscles in my back.  Maybe I can only get to the top layer, something superficial, maybe just notes and rhythm, before I can get to the next level of depth.”

(This was something my physical therapist taught me—that she couldn’t get down to the root of my back problems until she could relax the muscles on the top layer, and the next layer, and the next. . .)

Then I started writing about the clouds in the sky looking like snow on a pond.  A few sentences later. . .

“When you just write what comes to mind, sometimes you delight yourself.  Like the time I wrote a story for Delaney, and at the last moment, decided to let the dog talk.  Having a dog talk isn’t ‘true’ or ‘honest,’ but it came to mind, so I jotted it down. And it made her laugh!  It seems a lot less pressure-filled to write what comes to mind.  I really like that.  But I didn’t think of it first, I had to write a lot of words in order to get to it.”

One of the pieces I presented at DJSS, called "Can’t Let It Go," starts with an almost annoyingly repetitive riff, followed by seven beats of rest.  It was an odd idea, and yet, it really grabbed me as something I could work with.  Rather than dismiss it as too weird, I kept toying and experimenting, to see where it would lead.  It was kind of itchy and under my skin for weeks until I solved it.  And now, it’s one of my favorites to play. 

Write what comes to mind now, and you may smile about it later!

Listen to the premiere of Can't Let It Go at:
or watch video at:

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