It’s been a while! September and October have been busy months full of lots of deadlines, teaching and excitement.

Technically, it’s not been quite as long as it seems. For the whole of September, I didn’t update here but instead updated my Creative Pact blog. The aim of the Creative Pact project is to spend a month dedicated on one particular project. I decided to spend it on the clarinet sonata, that I first posted about here.

Sadly I didn’t meet the aim of my pact: To have fully drafted all three movements of the sonata. However, I did draft movements one and three, and had the second well on the way. My Creative Pact efforts were hindered by a busy month, including starting lessons at 6 schools (three of them new to me!), a concert, and three other score deadlines during the course of the month!

Despite the various distractions I had I found the pact very productive. It was great to try to work towards one specific goal – every day I had to ensure I spent some time on it, which consequently led to me thinking about it more, and getting much more done as a result. When I couldn’t be physically at the score, I set aside some time to actively auralise the music, and to work on it mentally, be it through brainstorming new ideas for the next section of the work, or rehearsing sections over and over to decide on precisely how I wanted them to be articulated (particularly helpful when it comes to articulation!). Although I normally compose most nights of the week, it’s rare that they will all be on the same piece – normally there’s at least a couple being worked on. However, I did really see the benefit when I moved away from the sonata for a day. For example, on some days I would spend a few hours on the Requiem, then an hour on the sonata later. This hour on the sonata was often quite productive, simply because after having spent some time working on another

True to the pact, I did send off drafts of two movements – the first and third – to Marion on the 1st October. The second took a lot longer to complete due to a crazy month, but was finally with her a couple of weeks ago. After a short break, I have just returned to the sonata in order to re-draft a few sections, and to perfect the piano accompaniment, which I was previously unsatisfied with. I find it interesting how a piano part that eluded me completely when working on it day in day out has come very naturally now there’s been a break. I’m not sure if this is to do with my habit of ensuring I mentally play through the whole work on a regular basis (and thus have been filling in the gaps, so to speak!), or just because an effective accompaniment seemed obvious after some time away. Either way, it has further cemented the importance to me of having a break for my compositional process – it enables me to review and edit from a more objective standpoint, as well as to more effectively realise my initial ideas, which sometimes get clouded when concentrating on just a few bars.

Overall, I think the pact was very successful for me, but not necessarily something I will be attempting again. However, I might try it in a different form – committing to work every day for a fortnight, say, on a large piece, then returning to it after a break.

I won’t be posting any snippets of the score on here, in draft form or otherwise- a computer realisation won’t do justice to a score intended (and scheduled) to be performed live!

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In “Other news”, while i was working on the Pact I made headway on a couple of other works. One movement of the Requiem is now complete, and I have the next movement to complete in my sights. I also completed a flute miniature entitled Perkusi, which was performed by Nancy Ruffer last Saturday at Colchester New Music’s Crossing Borders concert. I will write a more detailed post about that when I’ve got a copy of the recording to share!

Alongside the next couple of movements of the sonata, I’ve also got two other composition projects for November, which I will be sharing in due course. Now the madness of a busy October is out of the way, I’m hoping to return to a regular (ish!) one a week blogging schedule.

Categories: BlogMusings


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