I am getting to the end of High Flight, adding the final details of phrasing and articulation and beginning to fiddle with the layout of the score. There is a phrase in the piece that has been bugging me for a while, though, and it was only yesterday that I managed to put my finger on it.
It may not happen to creative artists in other fields, but a composer can sometimes write a phrase just a little too easily, suspiciously easily, and that is never a good sign. I have been on the guard against this since finding out that a phrase I wrote back in 1997 was a note for note recreation of a line I had not heard for nearly fifteen years, although it was by Finzi, so at least I was unconsciously borrowing from somebody I admired.
This latest phrase kept pulling at something at the back of my mind, nagging me and telling me that maybe, just maybe, I had heard it before. Strangely, this was after I had revised the phrase to make it flow better, so maybe I had simply polished it into something I had half remembered.
Then it came to me in a flash, I went hunting and found out the exact phrase I had, ahem, borrowed. It was from a piece called riverunstill, written in 2000 by…me!
While there is something quietly reassuring in the fact that I clearly consider myself a decent enough composer to imitate, I am a little dismayed that I fell into the trap of letting the phrase come to me. In my defence, the text I was setting was very similar, and that clearly triggered a vague reminiscence that turned into a phrase, but it was a reminder that I need to be on my guard against such things.