Beethoven said that “The true artist is not proud, he unfortunately sees that art has no limits; he feels darkly how far he is from the goal”, and I think, two hundred years later, that those sage words bear repeating. I have always had the nagging feeling that the goal, whatever it might be, is ever distant, also that those who simply regurgitate the same old stuff have the easier life.
This quotation struck me over the weekend because I am chipping away on the piece for violin and narrator, but I can feel that I am trying something different. Rather than springing into life as a dual entity I am instead beginning with the narrator’s text, writing inflection and rough rhythm, and the violin is acting as a commentator.
I have a distant memory of having done something similar before, at least of having written pieces in this quasi-improvisatory fashion. Being somebody who usually plans the form of their pieces before all other aspects this is a curiously instinctive way of going about the process.
The negative side of it is that I only have the vaguest ideas of how the piece will travel, even if the end and therefore the destination is already sketched. The positive side is that I hope that the work will display an air of freshness and invention when it is performed.
Of course, this is hardly a complete change of direction into a new aesthetic concept, merely an adaptation of technique to suit the materials at hand. If that means that I end up on the same side as Beethoven in this manner of approach then that is merely an unexpected and delightful bonus.