There is a strong spatial element in one of my new pieces, some gentle choreography too, and both of these mean than I am going to need to consider elements above and beyond the purely musical. I need to bear in mind the positioning of players, how they might move during the piece, and also how it might be perceived by the audience.
Thankfully the space for which the piece will be written is one I know well, and I have a fairly solid idea of how it will sound, even if the details are still some way from being complete and only a little way into being planned. Get this right and it could be distinctly memorable – get it wrong and it could be memorable in the wrong way.
As composers we all too infrequently think of our music in terms of space. On a simple level I always write my orchestral music with the idea that first and second strings will be split antiphonally, split side-to-side, but only rarely is that the setup with orchestras, who tend to lump all the violins together in a way that is less than useful.
No need to give up thinking about the music in this way, though, and it is clear that many other composers in the past also thought in this manner. Thankfully with this new piece I should be able to specify more or less exactly where I would like my players to be.
We are still at a very early stage of the writing, as each decision necessarily has knock on effects for many other decisions, both those already made and those to be made. The detail of the piece is as yet unknown to me, but the aim is to reach the stage where it all looks as if it was inevitable.