It has been another busy week of running around and finishing various leftovers from the days of lockdowns. Thankfully the current infection figures seem to be holding steady, which is something of a relief, so I am at the stage of putting things into the diary with reasonable confidence that they will end up happening.
I have also been spending a goodly amount of time thinking about the new compositions – the choral piece and the work for orchestra – and have some preliminary sketches for both, although it is still very much early days. With these two works, the cantata for the Parliament Choir and the symphony, I think that I definitely have enough to see me through to the end of the year and probably a good way into 2022 as well.
As part of my planning for the orchestral work I have been dipping back into The Universe In Your Hands by Christophe Galfard, which I first read a few years ago and which I found utterly fascinating. It took a little effort to get past the first couple of chapters but when he was discussing quantum mechanics, black holes, the death and birth of the universe and many other things besides I was gripped, and the title for this work new will come from within its pages.
During the week I was musing about correspondences between the quantum world and composition, such as when all possibilities collapse into one reality the moment that the pencil sketches the first note on the manuscript. A new piece is all things at the same time until that moment when all its potential forms coalesce into a much narrower hierarchy of possibilities. I find it all rather thrilling and slightly overwhelming, but the idea does sound like fun, I must admit.
I strongly believe that a piece, once finished, should feel inevitable, as if it was always there, and the job of the composer is to hide that infinite realm of possibilities so completely that the final piece seems always to have existed. At present I have no idea how the new orchestral piece will be in its final state, but this is often the most thrilling part of the procedure. The trick is then to keep going, to dance with all those choices and grab hold of the ones that matter until the notes in the ether become reality at last.