Creativity is a funny thing, and sometimes I need to be dragged out of a space and plunged into a new one to change my perspective. This weekend I have had the most rewarding and enlightening weekend with the other Adopted Composers, Sound & Music and Making Music. Sometimes life as a composer becomes quite insular, and you need to be picked up and dropped into a pool of wonderful people to reawaken your senses. The people involved in the project have so many skills, so many perspectives and are wonderful and welcoming. This outward interaction, results in a new relationship with my inner process, I am challenged to think in a new way, to reassess my work.
I’ve been struggling with my Cory band piece, I think for several reasons which were obscured to me. Spending time with other composers and talking about their practice this weekend has been really enlightening for me, and has opened up a way of thinking about my work which is enabling me to solve some of these creative struggles.
I was finding the writing of the piece very stressful, and was not feeling any flow or inspiration around it, each day was a battle, each decision a struggle. But, when thinking about my process I suddenly realise that it is not piece which is the problem, but the process. My last few pieces have been written in Sibelius 7, which is a new approach for me. I always used Sib 6 to write up scores once they were already finished but this time I am trying to use it as a creative tool. My natural preference would be to work in Logic, exploring the sonic world without any reference to the dots on the page or music theory. I think this comes across in my work, my Sibelius based work is more clunky, more concerned with pitch and convention, more immature. In a lift in Waterloo Station, I remember that I am not a notation based composer. I am an aural composer. Trying to approach the work from a notated point of view has been, for me, like doing everything left handed, trying to open a can with a spoon. My aural sense has not been inspired and has not lead me as my eyes have been too preoccupied with asking my brain for harmonic permission.
I realise that my process and means of composing is perhaps not what other composers are used to, and not what ‘classical’ musicians expect, but I am not a classical musician and I am not a trained composer, I am just a person with ears who makes sound. There will be much to learn about how I can adapt my working practice to a world which has slightly different rules and expectations, I think a lot of that will be about being clearer with myself and others about how I work and what I need in terms of collaboration.