First day

First class of my Masters degree! It feels really odd only having a single class in a day. And really slack to go in for a 2-hour seminar, then just come home again. I suspect it’s going to take me a while to really settle into a routine, but I think I did OK today. I managed to stay awake all the way into college, AND all the way home again. I did some useful reading in both directions. And I resisted the intense urge to nap for a couple of hours when I got home and instead had a cup of tea and spent a good hour and a half fathoming the intricacies of my timetable and mapping it all out in Google Calendar and iHomework.

Things that are becoming very clear: 1. I need a new backpack because this one is developing an actual hole in the bottom of it. Right now it’s too small to matter much, but it’s obviously the beginning of the end. And 2. I’m going to need to get a new laptop battery pretty soon – it’s going to be really frustrating if I can only compose when I’m at home, especially if there are builders swarming all over the house. Sooner or later I’m going to want to work on something either at or on the way to college, and I’d rather be prepared for sooner!

Today’s class was a seminar for postgraduate and 4th year BMus students. It’s attendance-based pass/fail, I gather (so if you turn up and don’t nap off too obviously, you pass) but we’ve been given an assignment anyway. I’m actually quite happy about that, oddly enough. You’d think that in the face of needing to write vast scads of music I’d really be not happy about more work which isn’t even assessed, but it’s a little one and as it’s text-based (a short presentation on a text of our choosing out of Audio Culture) I’m really quite glad to be doing it.

One of the (small) disappointments is that it’s looking like I won’t get to write any essays this year. I actually really enjoy researching and writing essays. But, like I say, it’s just a small disappointment. The course overall looks fantastic and I think it’s going to do great things both for my composing and general musicianship, which of course is the point. If I want to write essays at other times, I just need to prioritise the time.

Anyway, the seminar’s looking interesting. People were getting involved in the discussion (I remember I used to be terrified of these sorts of sessions. Looks like old age has found me early & now I just burble whatever comes into my head) and all the composers seem really friendly. We also had some bonus pianists!

I’ve done some more work on Ladders of Escape too today. I’m really trying to do as much as I can make myself do on this each day for a couple of reasons – firstly because I really want it to be done quickly so I can start the shiny new pieces for my portfolio and I don’t know where a half-finished commission piece for an ensemble who aren’t local will sit with that. It just seems better to forge ahead and finish it and then start new stuff. Secondly because I need – really, really need – to prepare myself for long hours working on pieces this year. I was doing really well with the focus thing while writing On Harrowdown Hill – working up to 8 hours a day on it, in fact, which is something I’ve never done before – so I know I can do it, but having dropped back again over August, I need to ramp up my brain to that sort of level so I can actually get through all the work I need to do.

Anyway, Ladders is now a whopping 5’20” or so. True, that’s over 2 movements, so each movement is still pretty petite (2’28” and just under 3′ respectively) but the material is related so I feel justified in considering the duration as a whole. Hoping to finish the 2nd movement this week and move onto the 3rd over the weekend. So far the second movement is pretty rough – I’ve focused on pushing forward to sketch out the whole thing, then I’ll go back and tidy the bits that aren’t quite right – but overall I think it’s developing quite a good shape and moving in some interesting and not-entirely-predictable directions.

I do need to go over the part for the 4th player and have a good think about what I want to do with it though. In the first movement, this player is on bass, with a brief change to tenor, and I was thinking of using tenor all the way through the 2nd movement, but after I realised that what Finale was playing me was still transposing an octave lower than written, I’m thinking I’d like to keep that low register in there, so I’ll need to go through and work out what will be bass and what will be tenor and adjust accordingly.

And now? To bed! Research Methods awaits on the morrow and while it’s not starting till 12 I want to try to get into good sleeping habits!

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