It felt very much like Symphony 1 – Composer 0 as I closed the laptop after a couple of hours of fighting with the slow movement yesterday. I have all the bits I need, and I know that they are right for the movement, but for the life of me I just could not seem to work out how they all slotted together.

My wiser half suggested that I print it all out and then she would put the pages together in a random order, which was a joke (I think) but it is not far removed from what Elgar would do, and there is certainly value in that approach, but I know how the narrative should progress and which material supplies which function, just not how it all works in the whole thing. Given that it looks increasingly as though this section is the emotional core of the work, it needs to be right.

It does all need to be right, of course, but at least the other movements currently feel okay. Here I am still flailing in the dark a little, and still some bars short of an Adagio, which is a term I might use in other contexts now that I have coined it.

So I sat and stared and jotted and calculated and scribbled notes and numbers and letters and jumbled them and put them back together and ripped them apart and put them back together again. Somehow none of it seemed to work in the way that I wanted to.

Then, right at the end of the session, as I stared dolefully at my scraps of paper, I came at it from a different angle, which, now that I write about it, I know that I have done before with this piece. Maybe I have simply been coming at it from the wrong direction, thinking of this movement in a certain way whereas in the writing it has silently changed into something quite different. Today’s work will tell me if I am back on the right track.