Project Planner Extraordinaire…

May 1, 2011 Comments Off on Project Planner Extraordinaire…

I love planning projects. I like spreading paper out over a big table and making charts and organizing diagrams and writing everything out longhand, sometimes several times. But what about finishing them? The pertinent example is “When Silence Sings,” the song cycle for Wendy. It was so much fun to pick out the poems and arrange them in a series that made poetic sense. I copied them all out by hand and made notes on each of them about what the music should be doing. It was a blast!

Fast-forward to now, where I’m making desultory efforts to write the music I envisioned. It’s hard work! And sometimes I find myself thinking that I only wanted to plan it, not actually do it. As usual, Calvin & Hobbes tells the story of my life.

This happens a lot with grand musical projects. In addition to “When Silence Sings,” I have a song cycle about an early Christian saint, “Christiana Sum;” an opera about a blind knight visited by a muse; a multi-movement tone poem based on “The Dream of the Rood;” and a visually avant-garde opera based on a chess game. They all have their movements nicely divided up, sometimes with words and notes and everything, but somehow when it comes to actually writing the music, I stall…and stall…and stall. A big part of it is that I’m still not a very good composer—I have an idea of what I want, but it’s still incredibly difficult for me to find it on the piano, and I find myself easily discouraged. And I’m not sure how to practice.

But someday…someday you’ll be reading the paper and come across a story about a big work by a young (or maybe not so young, by that point) up-and-coming composer. If I ever get to be any good, there’s going to be a flood of cool-idea big works. In the meantime, I guess I’ll stockpile my big plans, and if you need anyone to help plan a project, I’m your man. But “When Silence Sings” is supposed to be done by summer, so… I guess I’d better put my head down and work on it.

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