Despite managing to do a fair chunk of work, yesterday was a frustrating day in all. I am really struggling with my solo violin piece and do not have a huge amount of time in which to get it finished. At the moment it is simply a large amorphous blob of notes with very little direction or focus, so my task today is to try to distil it down to its core elements and work from there. The trick, as they say, is not in putting more things in but in taking more things out.
I read up a little on some ideas on atonal writing yesterday, for that is what I am attempting to do in this violin piece. Of course, one could argue that any piece of atonal writing could be understood to have a tonal centre at points, and, in the hands of a composer who knows what they are doing, the strength of that centre can be carefully manipulated. I am trying to give this piece some aural signposts so that its structure and direction may be discerned, but it is taking an awful lot of hammering for it to come into any real kind of shape.
Somebody asked me yesterday why I kept writing pieces I did not think were very good, such as this one, and the simple answer is that I view them as technical exercises, as challenges to my rather earthbound technique. If I can work through this to the extent that the next time I have to write such a piece I will have a stronger idea of what I should be doing, then this time will have been an investment in my future writing.
It would be good to have the basic shell of the work finished by the end of today, for I have given myself the tightest of deadlines on this piece. However, I have other things to which I would like to turn my mind during the afternoon and evening, so I shall just have to see how things go. It is interesting to realise that, in this piece at least, my work is best done on paper, whereas other works only begin to fly once I transfer them to the computer screen. Very odd.
There were frustrations in another area of my life yesterday, one which I alluded to right at the end of my last blog. As this situation is ongoing I am not going to write about it just yet, but it has to do with what I see as a real lack of ambition and drive in some quarters. I consider myself to veer wildly between having the most monstrous drive and ego on the planet, and at other points redefining the word ‘lazy’. Perhaps I just have a clear and healthy dividing line between what is work and what is not work, but the ‘roll over and play dead’ mentality of many people simply drives me up the wall. In my final hour I want to be aware that I gave it my best shot, not just sit there dribbling while I murmur “I coulda been a contender”. From my experience on the ice last December, however, I harbour grave doubts about being aware of anything in my possible final hours apart from the reality of my own stupidity.
It has been a little bit of a late start today, but most of the items with deadlines are now out of the way, so the only person I am really going to be letting down is me. I would like to think that I shall have a Damascene moment with the violin piece today, but I am more expectant that I shall simply have to keep chipping away until something with a half-recognisable form emerges. Still, however ugly the violin piece, it is unlikely to provide those instinctive shivers up the spine that the current breed of pug-nosed Formula One cars offers. It’s a good job I shan’t be watching.