100 Days – Day 24

The big re-write is coming along. As I’m basically just pouring material into a mould, there’s very little to blog about, so I might put this on hiatus over the weekend. I’m a few days behind, but fortunately, I’ve got a buffer zone of 3 weeks at the end of my plan for this kind of thing. I’d hoped to focus on the second movement next week, but it will probably be better for me to keep working away at the 5th movement until it’s done!

100 Days – Day 21

Facing the Blank Page

There are moments when facing the blank page is exciting – an infinite number of compositional possibilities lie stretched out, waiting for me to use them.

There are moments when facing the blank page is daunting and stressful – for me, this occurs more often when I have a relatively clear idea of what it is I want to do. What if I get it down and it turns out to be shite?

I’m currently in the middle (or at the beginning of the middle, or the middle of the beginning?) of the big re-write of the 5th movement of ACC. It’s the 3rd time I’ve sat down to write this movement. The first time, in Copenhagen, I set the whole first half of the movement. In the moment, I was very pleased with what I’d done, but in the cold light of day, it soon began to feel stale, banal and uninspired. It was the right idea but the wrong execution. The second time I sat down to do it, I had come up with much more interesting pitch material (see day 20) but hadn’t yet come up with a new rhythmic idea.
I now have that new rhythmic idea. So all that’s left is to sit down in front of the blank page and pour the material into the mould.



I usually find that when I actually get down to it and start the writing, it happens fairly easily. But sometimes it can be so difficult to take that first step. So I come up with lots of little things to do – send an invoice, reply to an email, iron every shirt I own, make another cup of coffee – and little things that are throwing me off – not wearing my ‘composing cardigan’ [eyeroll emoji], room too hot, too cold, you name it.

And then, when evening comes, and I’ve spent my day dithering and moving my orchid around and putting post-its in my Adler Orchestration book and so on, I sit down and have to write. And it’s terrifying.

And oh, so satisfying.

One of my ‘modes’ for ACC 5, alternating semi-tones and minor 3rds.

One of my ‘modes’ for ACC 5, alternating semi-tones and minor 3rds.

100 Days – Days 19&20

Day 19

No post on Sunday! I did a little PhD work but then got distracted unrolling my new mattress topper, and ironing literally every shirt I own – which I find very therapeutic. By the time I finished ironing it was already not Sunday anymore...
I highly recommend the mattress topper, by the way. I don’t think I’ve ever slept so well.

Day 20

So far today I’ve mainly just been working on how the harmonic structure of my 5th movement (the big re-write) is going to progress. I’m beginning with a mode consisting of alternating semitones and minor 3rds, which creates a really interesting ‘open’ kind of sound, while still being a little disturbing, which will at some point transition into an octatonic collection, which should be suddenly much denser by comparison – I’ll probably end in a sort of Lydian space. (Lydian, oh Lydian, say have you met Lydian?)

100 Days – Day 18

All all jokes about udders aside, I genuinely had a very productive meeting with my supervisor yesterday. So productive that I didn’t do any work today. Tomorrow I plan to start the big re-write of my fifth movement. I had set the whole first half when I was in Copenhagen last year but it’s a bit “70s dance tune” and I want it to be more “contemporary slip jig” so lots of work to do!

100 Days – Day 16

When in doubt, Fugue



P.S. I’m #hometovote tomorrow, and going for birthday dinner with the folks, so day 17 might have to be imaginary. Then again, it might not

100 Days – Day 15

How I Compose:

The Oyster Method

Where do pearls come from? Tiny bits of grit get into oysters, and they cover them in layers and layers of mucus until a beautiful pearl is formed. I compose in much the same way. I work on little fragments and then draw them together with my compositional mucus until a musical pearl is formed.

100 Days – Day 14

Very little work today – recovering from a stupendous 30th birthday party.

I’ve written a handful of notes, and I’ve spent about an hour planning the re-write of my 5th movement, which I’ll be doing all of next week. I’m thinking slip-jig… The Devil Dances!