The rain is pattering away on the attic skylights and I am installed in front of my computer after yesterday’s day off, tapping away on a revision of my motet Tota Pulchra Es. This was originally written in 2004 (really that long ago?) for the London Oratory Schola in a version for three voices, but there are plans to perform it at St. Mary Abbots in September, and we would rather not have sopranos sitting around doing nothing, so I am adding in a fourth voice part, fleshing out the harmonies and so on.
This has proved to be rather more detailed work than I had imagined, for not only is the original placed quite low in its outer sections, but it is clear that there is scope to extend the harmony and textures in the central sections too. What began as a simple reallocation of voice parts has become instead a complete reworking and rewriting, which has meant jettisoning some of the ideas I had clung to in the original.
It is, however, a better piece, I think. The outer sections retain what I hope is a mantra-like calm, while the more exultant central section now sounds appropriately, well, more exultant. Although I have more or less finished working on this, I would still like to let it sit for a day or so more, just in case any other ideas spring to mind. At a certain point one has to decide how important the original concept was, and whether the benefits of leaving it behind outweigh the purity of sticking to it.
Other than that it has been a day of catching up with various things, the mundane chores of everyday life (shopping, vet, car service, rubbish tip). The manuscripts for the Exeter piece and the string piece are never far from my side, and I intend to get some serious work done on them this week. Without any doubt I underachieved in Anghiari in terms of getting new notes onto paper, although I am pleased with the way my thinking developed as a cause of immersion in so much different music. I really should do some more listening – whatever did happen to the idea of getting through all my CDs this year?