I had almost forgotten what a productive morning felt like, but yesterday one fell into my lap, although I must confess that it was helped along by a little bit of planning the night before. I had already decided that I needed to craft my way out of my compositional dead end, something I always advise my students to do, but which I had seemingly forgotten to remember.

However, I reread various chapters of one of my favourite composition books on Sunday afternoon which reminded me of the importance of developing original material, of running it through various permutations in an effort to create a palette of ideas from which to choose. As it happened, even the most simple of transformations allowed the flood (maybe “trickle”) gates to open just a touch, and I was able to spend a good session working on the climax of the current orchestral piece.

To be more precise, I was working on the build towards said climax and the move away (which will then in turn build up into the second section of the work), paying careful attention to the proportions of both. Just as choirs will crescendo quite happily and gradually yet drop suddenly in volume when they encounter a diminuendo, so a central architectural climax needs to have strong support on both sides, the route up, as I perceive it, roughly twice as long as the way down.

The image of those lovely walks in the Lake District springs to mind, the ascent taking so much time and effort, the view spectacularly worth the journey, but the way down needing almost as much attention and possibly hurting even a little more with those tired legs and pressured joints. The descent is definitely shorter but needs just as much care.

From the top of Skiddaw, looking west. Yes, I took this photo.

I wonder if I shall be able to get up to the Lake District this year and how it will have weathered this particular patch of history. We are out and about in the fields a little more often at the moment, exploring the various paths and walkways hidden away, and we are indeed lucky to have them nearby, but there is definitely something to be said for getting to the top of something properly challenging, a real Sibelius moment.