I managed to scribble out approximately four minutes of rough material yesterday for a new piece. At present I would be deeply hesitant to say that it is good, but at least I am aware that it is not good.
I have been doing a little bit of reading over the past days about the four stages of competence, and thinking about where my composing is in terms of those stages. For skills that have been committed to instinct the answer is easy, but for composition it feels as if the answer is much more complicated.
For a start, there are so many different elements to bring together in a piece of music that any self-aware composer must surely know that they have some weaker areas. I certainly know where mine are, work on them assiduously, and think that I can be objective enough to recognise them in my writing.
For this current piece at least I cam conscious that some areas of it are not good enough at this stage – conscious incompetence – while there are others that are definitely at the stage of conscious competence. In other words, it is not all bad news.
Because so much of composition is about tackling new problems I do wonder if I shall ever attain unconscious competence, the ability to write quickly and fluently without thinking about the process. Maybe it can be done, but I do worry that if composition were easy then I might just be churning it out without thinking enough…which sounds ominously close to unconscious incompetence, now I come to think of it.