The various peregrinations of the ukcomposer household mean that I am spending a fair amount of this week around and about, mainly in Bath, if truth be told. Thankfully one of the joys of this particular profession is that work can be done pretty much anywhere, especially in the age of coffee shops and wifi – the, ahem, award-winning new Mag & Nunc was put together mainly in Caffe Nero in Yeovil, for example.
Caffeine always helps, of course, but I am still a good distance away from Shostakovich’s ability to write even in the most cacophonous of surroundings and Mozart’s talent for throwing something together on a stage coach, but those are not the only ways in which I am some way from these great masters. Even so, the composer’s toolbox means that one does not always need to imagine the specifics of the sound in order to be able to imagine the sound itself, if that makes any sense at all.
It does make sense to me. Thankfully I am at the stage in my writing where I can pick up on which particular chord might add freshness, say, and, more importantly, why it might have that quality, even if the final result can sometimes surprise me, but one of the hidden advantages of this type of writing if that the result can often be unexpected and better than one might have achieved by more reliable means. It is all about understanding the why as well as the what, that thing that I refer to as craft.
Yesterday, though (Pret, Bath, since you ask), was more mundane in a way, writing a programme note, updating my biography and tidying the libretto for a forthcoming performance, all things that need to be done around and about the central business of composition. Happily in the middle of it all a commission for a bijou new piece fell into my lap from one of my long-standing supporters, something for me to get my teeth into over the coming months.
There were also new gigs to put into the diary with Clyve, five of them, no less, and I also have some arranging to be done this week. While the bulk of my work still sees me either at the manuscript or at the screen and creating music from scratch, there is enough going on besides that central concern to keep things diverse and interesting.