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Writing my own Music

In my post, “The Music is Silent“, I wrote about my experience with the composer version of writer’s block.

I’m pleased to report that I was able to write something.  I’m not so pleased to report that I probably can’t use it.  But the experience is still of interest.

I ended up writing something that is very unique, at least to concert band repertoire.  It’s about a minute of tubular bells, timpani, contrabass, and trumpet, and sounds very much like the intro to one of the more recent Star Trek series (a mix of Deep Space Nine and Voyager, with hints of a funeral in the mix.  That was entirely unintentional, btw).  I actually really like it, it’s beautiful, and maybe there’s something I can do with it.

But I suspect the one thing I can’t do with it is turn it into a concert band piece.

The thing I’ve learned is, I cannot write a happy, triumphant piece like “crescent moon dance”.  It’s just not in me.  I don’t have the ability to write a piece like that, at least not at the moment.  I apparently need to write moody, thoughtful, or even downright morose pieces.  When I start doing that, I start to be able to write.  When I want to write something more on the level of “crescent moon dance”, I, well, can’t.  It’s impossible right now.  I just stare at finale and curse my very existence until I go off and get a snack.

But that’s an interesting lesson, really.

It seems like such an obvious concept, doesn’t it?  Write what’s inside you, not what you think you have to write.  But that’s so much harder in practice, because everyone stands on the shoulders of giants, and it’s really hard to not pull very strongly from that which inspires you.  But in my case, the inspiration just has to be “I’m writing music, and hopefully it will be as good as the music I admire” – but it has to be my own.  It has to come from me.

And apparently, right now I want to write something like an elegy.

Maybe I’ll just strip all of the unnecessary instruments out, and make it less for a concert band than a small ensemble of mismatched instruments.  That’s not what I really want to write, but… it seems to be what I’m writing.

And that’s the most unnerving thing of it all.  It’s like the music demands that I write it, in the way that it wants me to, and I’m just the transcriptionist.  I don’t know why that’s a surprise, I’ve already had that experience in pretty much every literary work I’ve ever written.

Maybe music and literature aren’t all that different at all, it’s just the language that’s different.

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