And another one! Yesterday I was really struggling. I knew Jen was going to be in London with her recorder today and I really wanted to have something for her to play. I wrote something, but I really thought it wasn’t terribly good. I was trying to get the sound of the recorder into my head – so very different than a flute or clarinet or anything I usually write for (coming to the conclusion that writing for recorder is more like writing for really flexible brass than orchestral woodwinds) – but it didn’t seem to be sticking and everything felt wrong and blech. Then I woke up this morning and was completely convinced it was rubbish and I’d have to start again, but as I’d put so many extended techniques into it – flutter-tonguing, multiphonics, singing into the recorder, quarter tones – I figured I might as well see what she made of it and hear what these effects really sounded like.
Well, knock me down with a feather. She started to play, and it all coalesced! We needed to do some tweaking on the third of the group (she gets a tiny triptych) but the first two are pretty much as they were when I first wrote them last night. And while it’s an odd piece, it grew on us as she played through it more and now I think I’m rather fond of it. And that’s number 5!
Right now I’m waiting for Windows to fire up so I can scan the multiphonics fingering page out of Walter van Hauwe’s The Modern Recorder Player (Vol. III) to send to Jen with the score. This has been a really useful book, for the multiphonics in particular – lovely strong, clear sounds. It’s a real joy to use them. There’s loads of composer-friendly info in there, and while it’s aimed at performers who want to play these effects, it’s also really useful for working out what’s possible for writing them. The other resource I found really helpful for getting me started was Australian composer & recorder-player Ben Thorn’s quick introduction on the Orpheus Music site.
I sent a quick update out to the performers today. Seeing as people seem to be enjoying their pieces, even when they’re bewildered by them, I’m going to compile them all into a single volume and send out a hard-copy to the performers to thank them for their hard work. After all, I just have to write the stuff (and, obviously, choose the fonts. Very important, that) – they’re the ones who need to play it and get it to a decent-enough standard to go out into the world with their name on it! So I thought it would be a nice thing to get them properly printed and bound up, all as a group.
And now it’s half-past twelve and I’m not quite ready for sleep. My Da’s gone into hospital in Australia tonight for ‘tests’. God knows what they’ll find. Hopefully something easily fixable, but sleep’s a tricky thing under these circumstances, so it’s back to more work on the slide guitar piece. Graphic score, I will subdue you!