The busker outside Kensington High Street station was playing La Marseillaise on his kazoo as I headed back to the burrow yesterday evening, and although football sits way, way down my list of sports that I would choose to watch, far below even the American version, I still feel that a real feast of sporting endeavour has come to a close. I always enjoy the two week feast of Wimbledon in any case, thoroughly enjoying the men’s semi-finals that went on long into the night and into the next day and, frankly, I do not know what I shall do with my time from tomorrow.
Well, composition would be a good start. I am, in the parlance of actors, between jobs, but also feeling quite keenly that I am between styles as well, at one of those frequent crossroads where I need to dig deep and work out what it is that I am trying to express and, just as importantly, how to acquire the technical skills to be able to put it onto paper.
Part of this has been triggered by a glue-like feeling in my compositional head, as if every step is laboured and heavy, but part of it has also been due to hearing some very fine music indeed by other writers. So many times I ask myself how they get that sound, and then I just need to sit down and dissect what they have written.
To my credit, I have done a decent amount of sketching over the past days, taking the approach that anything jotted down represents a step in some direction or other, fighting against standing still. Most of it is rather stilted, but some doodles, such as today’s, add something to my vocabulary, a move or a technique or a shift that has the potential to bring great benefits.
With composers and writers, just as with sportspeople, what you see and hear is merely the tip of the iceberg of effort. Philip Pullman writes in Daemon Voices that he redrafted the first chapter of Northern Lights some twenty times before he made the breakthrough that defined the book, so why should I expect great things to come on the first sketch, when I know I just need to write and write, and then write some more?