Advent Calendar: 34

In spite of snuffles continuing I made it back into college today (a part of this was due to the incentive of Djelibeybi continuing to saw and bash things around the home) and have consequently managed a truckload of work – hurrah! I’ve been here for nearly 4 hours and in that time I’ve sent off some important emails, taken Fear of Falling to 4’33” and worked on the Ansel Adams piece as well as done a little gentle socialising. Tomorrow I’m planning to rampage on to the end of it, although there’s a chance I may need to hack off or move the end section, which I love but it kind of moves from a big triumphant brass-&-everyone bit back to more of a content-development feel, so I might need to try to move that before the big triumphant brass and use the TB as the beginning of the end, if you get my meaning. I really like this end part and would be sorry to lose it, but if it needs to go, it needs to go.

I ended up actually extending the triumphant brass section. It was starting to feel like every idea I had just did 2 rounds and then moved on to something else, so I’ve pulled out a couple of bits of the brass (a bit like making pull-taffy!) so that it all feels more triumphant and more significant and climactic (hopefully. the alternative is that I’ve just made it more boring, but I’m hoping not!). Really rather liking this piece. I do so hope it works with the actual orchestra!

I also spent some time working out what I’m really doing with the piece and how the title relates. Yes, I probably should have done this earlier, but I kind of knew what I was working with then, so I just needed to see where it went, whereas now I really need to know where it wants to end up. What I’ve realised is that the piece is about stability vs collapse. The string parts have this recurring thing which is kind of like a cliff crumbling beneath you. The winds, brass and percussion work against this with much more structured music and the whole thing is kind of like the wind/brass/perc teaching the strings how to stop themselves from collapsing in a heap 🙂

I also got back to the Ansel Adams piece which is now up to 3’45”. Section 2 is proving a little challenging. I’m broadening my materials, being more adventurous with the rhythm and ploughing forward with repetition when it seems silly (astounding how often this makes an otherwise apparently stupid figure sound convincing) and moving away from the kind-of-modal sound of the opening. Going a bit random with my accidentals. Although it must be said that usually when I do this it ends up just being in some other key and not atonal at all. I think I quite like it. I have to keep reminding myself that this piece is very long-haul. I’m nearly but not quite halfway, so there’s a lot to be done and I’ll need a fair bit of material to play with.

One of the things that particularly struck me last term was when in a group lesson with Stephen another student asked how one wrote a 3-minute piece (something I’ve never had trouble with, but some people are just naturally drawn to longer pieces, I guess!) and Stephen answered that a 3-minute piece is basically a one-idea piece. This has helped me a lot with working out how to draw out my material. Fear of Falling, being 5 minutes, has a couple of key ideas from which everything else is drawn. Ansel Adams, being 9 minutes (approx) is going to need a few more, so I’m bearing this in mind, that I CAN introduce new ideas, but shouldn’t go overboard with them.

So it’s been a useful day, but now is time to head home to watch The Breakfast Club with Djelibeybi 🙂

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