I’m Back

I have spent the last several years trying to figure out what to do with myself, having given up on finding a tenure track faculty job somewhere. I found it was really hard to be productive without being part of an active artistic community. I also found it was really hard to be productive without having access to a 24 hour coffee shop with free wireless. Heck, I’d settle for a coffee shop that closes at midnight–the kind I used to go to if I wanted to make sure they’d kick me out at some point so I’d wake up in time to be at a morning appointment. Continue reading

Thoughts about Rigidity, Creativity, and Marzipan Danish

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes creativity work. On the one hand, I seem to be a fairly creative person who has original ideas. On the other hand, I’ve met very few people who think as rigidly as me. Actually, I only have one friend (who I know of) who is as spatially rigid as me–she’s the only other person who doesn’t think it’s OK to put the cinnamon back somewhere vaguely in the vicinity of where it came from instead of just putting it back in exactly the same spot where it was before. She does amazing drawings, which has gotten me thinking about how creativity and rigidity mesh. Continue reading

Themes are Hard

I haven’t posted for a while because I’ve been writing a new piece.The music is pretty much done, but I’m stuck when it comes to finishing it. It feels so close that it hardly seems worth writing about it before it’s complete. On the other hand, the piece has now been waiting for that one last thing for a while now, so it seems worth writing about that. Continue reading

Things that help me compose

Really good new music or art. It’s got to be new. It’s got to be something I haven’t seen before. Usually when I’m not composing it’s because I’m feeling disconnected from the music-making community which makes my work feel irrelevant. Since I’m in a small town and there aren’t a lot of musicians I can go hang out with, art and music become a proxy for community. A good piece of art makes me feel connected–like maybe my music matters too. Continue reading

A Dearth of Camels

I’m struggling to come up with an idea for a micro-composition today. I have a few tricks I can use to just generate raw material, but that is unsatisfying. I used them in earlier sketches that I don’t even want to copy, so obviously I reject this material. I think one problem is that I keep feeling like I have to generate traditional musical material. This is just not my idiom. Maybe I’m having trouble with this piece because I have a sense that I need to write something traditional.

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Old Sketches

I have a blank book full of sketches lying around in a box somewhere (hazard of moving). But one tendency I am noting myself is a tendency to lose interest in old material. I find myself completely unmotivated to dig up the book and enter those micro-compositions into the collection of snippets for the piece I actually wrote them for in the first place. Furthermore, I am not even sure that they belong in the piece anymore.
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Cultural Borrowing

I take a martial arts class a couple of times a week. One of the things we do in there is Kali. Most people use plain rattan sticks. Some people tape the ends so they wear out more slowly. One of the advanced students has one stick made out of a different material: maybe rubber or plastic? So most strikes sound similar but with timbral variability, then the one stick stands out when it strikes.

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