I have a commission coming down the line, and I’ve been thinking about how to achieve freedom (you know, freedom) in a notated context. How to create a texture of license, spontaneity, theatrical awareness, without putting the performers in an uncomfortable and unproductive situation.
Notation doesn’t do freedom well. Its currency is specificity. But you don’t need to be specific about everything. So it’s about choosing in what ways to be specific.
In Open, for example, there was specificity of note and rhythm, though I ceded some responsibility of form to repetition. I gave myself the freedom of extemporaneous structure, and hoped that would speak. I was also specific about tempo. The piece gradually moves from quarter = 60 up to 90 and back to 60 over the course of thirtyish minutes, in small increments, one or two bpm at a time.
I thought of revisiting the process I used to write Open, in which I followed sound but no plan, writing a page of notes each day, never more or less, and not subsequently editing the form. I almost accused myself of going to the same well twice. But this is just a question of process, not of materials. This wouldn’t be going back to the same well; it’s a new well, just the same way of handling the bucket.
Question: what other language might we use, besides metaphors of construction and architecture, to analogize musical composition? What about gardening (and its attendant tools)? What about painting (colors, brushes, canvas)? What about weaving (rows, patterns)?
What other sorts of things do we make? (Cooking? Design?)
What other sorts of things have structure? (Biology? Physics?)
• Gone Walkabout
• Music as Drama
• Crossroads II
• 10 Best of 2014
• January: Wyoming and the Open
• February: New Mexico and the Holes
• Coming Up
• Notes on The Accounts
• Crossroad Blues