Hand Tools and Obscure Methodology

Posted on Posted in Life, Music, piano

How do they do it? What do they eat for breakfast? Any weird rituals, obsessive/compulsive tricks that unlocked their muses?

It is fun and often interesting to discover the habits of artists and composers. At least for me. Samuel Johnson (author of the first English Dictionary), walked a fixed number of steps from the sidewalk nearest his house to the door of the house. If the number was wrong, he went back and did it again until he got it right.

I don’t do that, although, for reasons relating to superstitious childhood games, I try not walking on cracks; if I become too conscious of that I try letting it go so I don’t get wrapped up thinking about it. (I walk to work, a lovely 15 minute brisk walk, usually on an urban trail in a small woods, where some of the pictures accompanying the compositions were taken.)

I generally compose three times a day: morning, before work; at my lunchtime before I leave for work again (I’m unusually lucky in being able to come home for lunch most days); and in the evening, before bedtime. This amount of composition results in a lot of sorting out of what I deem to be “auditionable” by others (my friend, Mike’s term). My process of sorting out the wheat from the chaff has evolved over time, into now categorizing by colour (c/o the Apple file system): green means good to go; blue, a remoter possibility; and yellow, orange, and at the bottom, red, all colours that mean this really didn’t work. I also now tag an “a” to a piece I believe is immediately auditionable, and a double “a” to something I think is special right off the press.

In the past (and up to now), I have then categorized these hundreds of compositions into folders, by year, month and whether or not they are worth further listening to. Until recently, I had sorted up to a year ago, and I am now catching up (currently in April 2015). Labour intensive, yes, but also interesting to see how my music is evolving. The current pieces you hear on SoundCloud were written and not categorized by this process. At some point in the future, I will post categorized, selected music.

In a future post I may write about my actual method of composition. Of course, all the while hoping that these details won’t spoil the recipe:>)

Isn’t life strange??? (Lovely Moody Blues song too)

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