…to do some long-overdue composing on my latest piece, Air Reel for bass clarinet and fixed media, for bass clarinetist, basset hornist, and all-around badass Lisa Preimesberger. I’m fully back in school, and have recently taken a job with a Big Awesome Fruit-Themed Computer Company (I’m not allowed to talk about them on the Internet, so that’s as specific as I’m going to get). You can see the score below (it’s only the first four minutes, and not transposed). I’ll update again soon with snippets of the electronics part!
As followers of my Twitter have heard me say, the piece is a mix of Hindustani Raga and Country Western song. Which is funny, not so much because of the odd pairing, but because I’m the one doing the pairing. My composition prof pointed out that both of these forms require a kind of patience that I don’t exhibit in my everyday life (I believe he called it “Yankee Impatience”). I have found myself trying to slow down for this piece, which has been really really tough! What’s nice about this piece (and with working with said composition prof, in general) is that I’m being forced to closely examine my thought process as I compose.
I like working with this guy. We don’t agree on a lot of ideas; I have always made it a point to take lessons from composers whom I disagree with; I don’t need to pay thousands of dollars for pats on the back and gold stars. I want someone who will see the perceived flat sides of my music that I can’t see. He can usually say one thing in the start of the lesson that completely shifts the way I thought of whatever I’m working on. It’s a good feeling, in its own frustrating way. It’s what learning feels like, and it keeps me hungry.
My “Yankee Impatience” has me frustrated lately, particularly with the advancement of my career, overall. Now that I’m firmly entrenched in the process of getting my PhD, I’m trying to turn my focus towards the next step in the process. From here, it gets murky. I’ve put up a website, I’ve made myself accessible via all sorts of social media, I blog every now and then. This makes me just like the hundreds of other composers I’ve encountered on Twitter and Facebook. All of us have found our way into the same river, and now we’re just swimming in circles. At first, it was exciting! We were all busy introducing ourselves, handing out business cards, following one another. We had so much to do. But now, it feels like we’re in a rut. Where are all the people looking for a composer to take a chance on? The more I look around, the more I see that people around me are all waiting for discovery, not waiting to discover. Suddenly, this looks just as frustrating as not being known at all. The only difference is that now all the unknowns know each other. We all apply to the same festivals and competitions, chase the same leads, and even the winners and the chosen end up back in the same ol’ river, swimming with the rest of us.
I have been told that, after a certain amount of preparation, that all that’s left is luck. That’s the part that kills me: there’s nothing I can do but wait and look appealing. If I was patient, that might be the easy part, but…