As years of…

…experience have shown me, I’m slowly crawling out of my annual creative slump.  Usually, it happens from about mid-February through the end of March, and I’ve come to expect it when it comes along and try not to push myself.  My private teacher, Meg, has been accommodating, which I appreciate.  Still, the best part of the slump is when I can feel myself coming out of it, and the creative juices start to flow.

Although it’s been happening for over fifteen years (!!!), I still don’t quite know what sets the slump in motion, or what makes it stop.  What I do know is that the slump is tied to an introspective streak that I have.  Usually, the slump is spent struggling with the same aesthetic quandary every year.  I’m of (at least) two minds about the music I want to make.

On the one hand, I want to write music that indulges my academic curiosity, something that I feel pushes boundaries and innovates.  I love the exploration of form/narrative structures and unusual timbres.  This is one of my favorite pieces to use as an example:


But, there’s another part of me that wants to write the biggest, most spectacular show-stopping pieces that I can.  Some days, all I want to write is:


I want to throw caution (and subtlety) to the wind, and write something so goddamn grandiose that even the Joe Six-Packs in the audience stand up.  I struggle to find a marriage of my desire for refined elegance vs. blow-the-fucking-house-down volume and decadent tunefulness.  I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never be a minimalist, or someone who works in tiny, precise gestures.  I was born to paint in broad strokes, baby!

It took me years, but I’ve come to love that there’s part of me that will always have the same musical taste and proclivities of my fourteen-year-old self.  I like the large-scale in classical music, and think that some peoples’ obsession with the subtle and refinement has neutered it in the minds of the public that classical music is so desperately trying to gain the favor of.  Somedays, I think that modern music could use a big ol’ dose of verismo opera’s sense of showmanship.  I know my music certainly could.

So yeah. That’s the result of this years’ month+ of mulling over it.  A merry post-slump to you all!

  3 comments for “As years of…

  1. Barbara Ann Levy
    04/08/2013 at 5:06 am

    Do both in the same piece. I see a video unfolding.

  2. 04/08/2013 at 12:19 pm

    whatever you cook up, can it involve neon paint?

    also maybe you need one of those fake sunlight lamps or like a home in hawaii… i feel like i get similar slumps in the winter and those are the only two possible solutions i can think of… i think…

  3. 04/08/2013 at 12:51 pm

    I’m not really a neon paint kinda guy, Molly, but I like where your head is at! I used to live in Oregon, where the weather is miserable for nine months out of the year, and I originally thought that was the reason for the slump, but even now that I’m here on Long Island, I still get it, just like clockwork.

    I’ll let you know if things are better for me once I’ve moved to Australia. The seasons are all backwards there!

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