I continued with my work on the cantata yesterday, getting well into the third movement’s orchestration, and I plan to continue with that project today. I am making better progress than I had anticipated and am very happy with the way that things are going.

This first pass of the piece is putting the notes onto the staves of the various instruments, and while some passages are plain sailing, the requirements of the music more or less obvious, some are trickier and require a little bit of reflection. It means that a two or three hour session of orchestration can involve some moments of sitting around and staring at a screen while the cogs and gears whirr at the back of my mind, while at other points I simply need to walk away and come back to a particularly knotty problem later.

The orchestra I am working with is a chamber rather than full group, so with single rather than double woodwinds, and past experience has certainly been useful in building up my knowledge of what might not work quite as well in real life as it does on paper, screen or in digital playback. These are lessons I have picked up along the way that continue to be useful on a daily basis.

At this rate I hope to have the entire first pass of the cantata done by the end of the week, and I will then probably move directly on to the second version before tidying and refining at the start of February. Once this task is done I can then get back to some solid writing, a couple of new projects that I would like to tackle.

So far my time off grown up work has been going well, but it is early days yet, although the more I think about it the more I realise that what I have really done is to return to those days immediately after I left college when, having a degree and all that, I was unemployed and therefore spent my days scraping together loose change and writing music. The financial side is just a little more secure these days after nearly thirty years of hard toil, but the composer-in-the-attic side of me is just as thrilled by the prospect of its day’s work as it ever was.