Gently does it. Having spent the best part of the morning working on my charts for the forthcoming RetroChic gig (fifteen done, fourteen to go) I felt that I had finally earned the privilege of being able to sit down and write some music.
Sitting in a cafe in the afternoon, and having finished writing an article for a website, I took out my manuscript and sketched out the beginning of a fugue for a forthcoming competition entry. Gaps here, gaps there, but a subject and a countersubject, nicely related to each other, and representing a promising start.
I used to teach this kind of stuff back in the day, back when it was still called Harmony & Counterpoint rather than something watered down for fear of frightening the horses, and I loved the way that it allowed me and (on a good day) my students to get right inside the heads of various composers. Why, for example, did they choose to write this note as an F# when F was both acceptable and expected?
Of course, the answer often lies in the question, so F# was probably chosen precisely because F was both acceptable and expected, and that ability to question every single note, whether one’s own or somebody else’s, lies at the core of being a serious composer. Not only only does one learn about other writers by asking these kinds of questions, but also, and more importantly, about oneself.
The sketches I have made are rudimentary at the moment, and very much by the book, but they will change as the piece progresses and as its trajectory becomes clearer. The important thing is to start and throw down something onto that blank manuscript, and the polish will arrive later.