There is a huge amount of “will they like it, won’t they like it?” about modern composition, and I worry incessantly about whether my music is modern enough. Interestingly, when I am not worrying about whether it is modern enough I am concerned that it is too modern, and I said as much to another composer a couple of days ago, that we writers need to have more confidence in ourselves.
At the risk of being boring, it is to Lutoslawski’s writings and thoughts that I turn yet again at moments of self-doubt, for he said (and I quote from memory, and, therefore, inaccurately) that he wrote what he wanted to write and was delighted if other people felt that they wanted to come along for the ride.
In the sketches for the new orchestral piece that might be I am trimming back my modernist aspirations ever so slightly, so no set theory per se or intergral serialism, but instead mixtures and mismatches of different scale forms which on their own are rather basic but in combination twist and turn and capture different elements of the light.
The effects a composer can create through a relatively simple set of procedures is still something that catches me by surprise, and music can gain a complex but rather beautiful sound through relatively simple means, without the out-there process based composition of some, even though I am not averse to some of that writing.
Still, though, I come back to writing music that is based on simpler building blocks and it seems to sound good enough and function effectively on a good day. As in cardboard gaming as well, a simple process can lead to beautifully complex decisions, but the complexity is the result of simple processes, not shoehorned in for its own sake.