Getting into a work rhythm

April 14, 2012

Having moved to a new home, and a new life [sabbatical for one year, practice run for post-UCLA reality/retirement spending full time composing and inventing a new life] I think I have finally got into a work rhythm. My problem is that I’m one of those types that needs to have XYandZ done before I can compose.

I start the day with what I call my barnyard chores — that would be feeding two dogs, two parrots, two humans, swiffing the floor, taking a bath, sweeping the porch and putting away dishes from the previous evening. Only THEN can I really get down to work. Truth be told, I’m already composing: thinking about what I’m going to do when I finally get done with these chores, so much that I’m insanely horny to get to work.

The last two days were interesting in terms of keeping versus throwing away. In the film industry, directors will tell composers regularly: “It’s a great piece of music, John, it just doesn’t work in the scene the way I want it to, so try it again.” My undergraduate music history teacher, L. Gushee, remarked that the problem with so much 20th C music is that you [or no one] ever said NO [or NO THAT SUCKS] to the composer. In Hollywood, and in the pop music world, saying NO is business as usual. Yesterday, I kept saying NO to myself over a passage that I’m working on. I threw out three versions, each one gorgeous, but not working for where we are in the drama. This is a place I can’t let the audience fall asleep, even though it is the middle of the night, on a boat, with a man and a woman looking at each other over a candlelight. That’s a real challenge, as you might imagine. So, I finished about 2/3rds of it before guests arrived for dinner last night, and now I’m horny to get back to work but had to put this down before I did…

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