The more I get on with life the more I realise I enjoy those days when I can go up to my garret, shut the door and catch up with emails, blogs, websites and, most importantly, composing. I have been involved with some great music making over the past few days, and am acutely aware that I am fortunate to earn my living in a profession which many view with fascination and a little envy. After all, how difficult can it be do have a hobby which is also your job, as people often ask?
Well, it can be tricky. For a start, the hours can be viciously anti-social, and those periods of the year most people view with a sense of relief (Christmas, Easter, weekends) can be the busiest times for us musos, especially those of us involved in church music. Even during the other times of year choirs and concerts tend to happen in afternoons and evenings, and, while not disastrous, it can make domestic matters difficult to keep hold of and, of course, require understanding on the part of partners.
Yesterday, therefore, after the run of three concerts in four days and many other things besides, I took my other half out for lunch at one of our favourite country retreats, and I had a restful afternoon before battle was joined over the Catan board, honours even after two plays.
Rest and relaxation done (for now, at least) I have leapt back into work today, catching up with various organisational matters for the Easter season and beyond before spending a decent chunk of time on the piece I am writing for a private commission. This is an arrangement more than an original piece, and so it gives me an opportunity to go to work in a slightly extended tonal world, something I have quite enjoyed this morning. As much as possible I try to stay away from the Is, IVs and Vs of Classical tradition and head out into pastures new, and I had a real moment of joy when two melodies combined perfectly at one point, meaning that I can introduce the new one via careful subterfuge, one of my favourite devices.
Writing tonal music such as this always gives the feeling of paddling in an inviting sea, familiar and threatless. If I want to wade further out I can see what is out there, but I can always retreat to the shore if necessary. My arrangements are beginning to form a small but significant part of my output, pieces such as Through The Fair, We Three Kings, and This Joyful Eastertide, and I quite enjoy writing them, as I believe that a fresh and new approach to them can yield unexpected and sometimes delightful results.
On towards Easter we head, with five performances of This Joyful Eastertide to come over the next fortnight or so, including its first broadcast, also the UK premiere of Festive Voluntary. This new arrangement will also receive its first outing next month, and I have not really thought about what lies beyond that point, but, with so many things going on at the moment, there are certainly reasons to be cheerful. It’s not a hobby, by the way.