Thanks to some advice from a friend I have taken on some new ideas about productivity and time management, and today is the first day when I shall be putting them into action with something approaching a vengeance. My list of things to do looks rather long and ominous, but the new choral work is right at the top, and moved on a little yesterday. I worked mainly on the central section, where the mood of the music picks up, along with the complexity, and am fiddling around a little with the musical language, which should be more edgy here, but not enough to scare the horses. I am deciding between two approaches to harmony and am running them side by side at the moment, but will eventually pick either the one or the other.
I nearly sent out some emails about music as well, but, rather amusingly, given my new approach to productivity, ran out of time. Still, if I am to make each message personal to the recipient it is going to be a large and rather intimidating task which will go on for a while. I am sure that it will be worth it in the end, but it is going to take a considerable amount of concentrated effort to make sure that I do not suddenly lose the thread once I have started.
I was in town teaching yesterday evening, having some fun with various members of the Parliament Choir, and listening to some music by the American composer Lowell Liebermann on my prehistoric iPod.
I am giving a talk on one of his pieces next week, so am becoming as familiar with it as possible, and it is interesting stuff. I hate all those “neo-”, “proto-” and “post-” labels (what on earth is post-ironic?), but I would genuinely describe this piece as neo-Romantic, in that it is clearly a modern work, but with the lyricism and sonorities of the Romantic era, also, tellingly, the same structural concerns. It is acting as a timely reminder that I should, of course, be writing the music I need to write and not be worrying about whether it is too modern or not. I should also let my imagination fly a little more freely and really listen to more contemporary writing.
When I write, I like to write in silence, so I do not have anything on in the background, and when I am out and about with my iPod in tow, I tend to listen to podcasts rather than music, the less to damage my ears. I won’t listen to it on the Underground, either, because the volume needs to be too high, so I will read my books then instead. I prefer to sit down and give Classical music some time, though, to listen to it rather than just to hear it, and maybe I should make more of an effort to do this, especially where the music of living composers is concerned, for there are some interesting ideas out there. Let’s see how interesting my own notes for today turn out to be.