The Double Bar

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Today I finished my first piano piece.  Around 4:30, I officially drew in the double bar; however, I think some of the chords are still going to change.  I thought that I would feel a bit more closure at the end of this composition exercise, but surprisingly, I just felt like I needed to write more music.  While trying to compose in the past week, I somehow got stuck in the key of C-minor and couldn’t figure out how to get out of it.  It should have been a simple fix, but a notation error made it impossible for me to figure out.  This is one of the few times in my life where stepping away from the larger picture and honing in on each minute detail actually helped me.  In essence, I had to “see the forest for the trees.”

So if it didn’t give me a sense of closure, what did composing do?  I guess if I had to pinpoint something, it did help me deal with some emotions, as did my general piano practice.  That being said, if a friend of mine hadn’t been around and available, I might still be huddled in a corner of the piano studio, drooling on myself and mumbling about dead people and left-hand harmonization.  My next logical step then is to figure out where to go with composing from here.  The music is in me, but I have absolutely no clue how to get it out.  I have joked over the past few weeks about how I can only compose one note at a time (and each note takes me about an hour, at that)…but there is some truth to that.  Where other people I know compose in a rounded out linear fashion (meaning that they can just play a bunch of chords they like and it turns into a piece within minutes), I literally think of one note at a time in the melody portion and then have major issues putting an accompaniment with that.  I’m not sure what that says about my personal life, other than I have issues with support (which is very much true).

Maybe then, I need to look at composition more like going hiking: I need a general idea about the terrain, but if I’m only thinking about one step at a time and where each foot is being placed, I don’t get to enjoy the beauty of the hike.  And really, is there anything more important than taking in the beauty and seeing what comes of it?  If I’m always focusing on one note at a time, I’ll never get to enjoy the process of composing…and didn’t I start this because of the process in the first place?

 

 

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About Lauren C-B

I live in Santa Fe, NM, with my husband, JR, and our adopted chihuahua, Vigo. I enjoy playing piano, reading, making Schoenbergian matrices, hiking, swimming, horses, playing EverQuest, and yoga. After living the first 30 years of my life in the midwest, the southwest is now a VERY welcomed change!

2 responses »

  1. LOL: We can only write one note at a time, but here’s the thing: you can write many notes without being committed to them ~ An Eraser Can Be Your Best Friend ~ (… were that were true in real life; but hey, we’re talking about composing here). Those chosen notes, and all other elements, can always be changed, revised, discarded and something else put in place.

    Art is the one sphere I can think of where a body has “The Luxury of Inventing a Problem of Their Own Choosing to Solve.” (… again – where else in real life?) Sure, there will be much personal agony about decision-making or self-flagellation over the desire for high musical integrity and quality.

    Initially, I think many of us are up against the Gods, Demi-Gods and Super-Heroes of music: we’ve been playing their music since childhood. We are accustomed to dialogue with, and the company of, Genius.

    While struggling through a student piece, it was difficult to ignore Rameau, Mozart, Stravinsky, etc. — spot-lit as they were on their much-deserved altars. It dawned on me I had to stop thinking about those composers and works of that quality or I would not finish my first piece, realizing too that finishing a first piece was, indeed, learning “how to finish a piece,” even if that piece was not earth-shatteringly fine. I could – and would have to / be able to make another.

    My congratulations, then, on that first double bar; it is one of the biggest of personal deals once you’ve ventured into the territory. I also humbly suggest yours is one of the best “first essays” I’ve run across.

    I laughed and laughed when you said you found the composing and completing it left you with the feeling you just wanted to make more (funny how that works). Welcome to the club. It is like discovering the pleasure of the most abstract of puzzles, crossword-like or other.

    Like crosswords, part of the ultimate satisfaction is when ‘everything falls neatly into place.’ (How often in real life are any of us that lucky to have everything fall neatly in place?) If we’re lucky, and apply all the craft while somehow keeping a bit of distance while doing so, the music may actually become expressive on its own terms, without our willfulness pushing it there.

    Excellent first time out, I think. Next, try and see where a sequence of a few intervals or several sets of intervals takes you. No tune for starters, no set progression, either. Your dilemma of ‘tune’ and / or ‘which chords’ is then no longer present. Music, within itself, has elements which must “play well with others” – something many a musician has learned to do, at least while at their instrument:-)

    xox P.

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