The orchestral work creeps in its petty pace from day to day, the final span now the focus of my interest, at least until I can put together some kind of coherent narrative to see it through from top to tail. There are a couple of strong moments in there, I feel, and I have been pleased to notice that what I thought were new ideas are actually developments of fragments and doodles from the very start of the piece.
That kind of long-term realisation of ideas, what Sibelius called ‘the profound logic’, is precisely what I have been aiming for in a piece like this, but the fact that so much of it has happened while I have been looking (or thinking) in another direction has been fascinating. I know, for example, that the central section of Flyht (which I’ll just remind you is no longer available on CD) in which the phoenix takes flight uses an idea from Sibelius 5, which was itself inspired by the vision of birds in flight.
It took somebody else to point that coincidence – if it was a coincidence – out to me, my humming causing them to ask me why I was thinking of Sibelius, and I had no idea that what I had written was based on that idea. Perhaps much of what composers express does, after all, come from some deep-seated collected language of musical gestures, such as those described by Deryck Cooke in his book The Language Of Music.
I would like to imagine that these correspondences in the orchestral work are there because, deep down, I really, really know what I am doing despite all the doubts and misgivings I encounter along the way, but maybe the truth is that my language is simply too narrow and constrained, that everything I write resembles everything else and that, therefore, it is all interconnected anyway. Maybe, maybe not.
Onwards I go with this piece, though, and after chatting briefly about it in a delightfully enjoyable Zoom reunion with several members of the Parliament Choir last night, I think that this work may well be my lockdown statement, that rather than going small I have instead gone entirely, ambitiously and totally impractically in the other direction. Like the music, it more or less makes sense to me.