Saturday, February 27, 2010

February Variations (28)

This is the last of this sequence. Notes on the notes will follow.

I have an idea for the next series, more later.

I also had an intriguing idea mentioned to me this week for a larger scale piece, which chimes nicely with a few ideas I've had while churning out the stuff I've been posting here recently. Sometimes things seem to come along at the right time. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

February Variations (26-27)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February Variations (25)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

February Variations (22-24)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

February Variations (21)

Friday, February 19, 2010

February Variations (20)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

February Variations (19)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

February Variations (18)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February Variations (16-17)

Monday, February 15, 2010

February Variations (15)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

February Variations (14)

Friday, February 12, 2010

February Variations (13)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

February Variations (12)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Law demonstrates itself to be Ass (again)

You may have read about this court case. Now go and read this excellent post about why the judgement is so wrong-headed.

This sort of thing is what happens when a stupidly narrow view of what constitutes originality, a technology (recording) that means pretty much every bit of music ever created is available for ever and none forgotten (as would be natural otherwise), and avarice collide.

Those thieving bastards The Beatles nicked the tune for "Seargeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Cklub Band" from medievel song "L'homme armé". Mahler ran off with huge chunks of his friend Hans Rott's symphony and used them for his own First (and used them to vastly better efect by the way). Then there's that bit in Brahms's Third Symphony which is totally a rip-off of Dvořák's Seventh (or possibly Sixth, can't remember offhand) - or is it the other way around? Bastards, the lot of them.

Of course they didn't steal. Musical ideas crop up again and again, sometimes deliberately (Mahler, probably), sometimes by chance (Beatles, almost certainly). The idea that a combination of a few notes from a finite resource (a scale) is something to be set in stone and the basis to sue someone's arse off and get money off them is quite simply damaging to all music. I'm not arguing against creator rights here - of course musicians should have a right to protect their creations and make a living from them - for a limited time. But the reductionist view that copyright law takes of what constitutes originality, coupled with the ludicrous lengths of copyright terms, is an active obstacle to the natural growth and evolution of music as an artform.

February Variations (11)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

February Variations (9-10)

Monday, February 08, 2010

February Variations (8)

Sunday, February 07, 2010

February Variations (7)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

February Variations (6)

Friday, February 05, 2010

February Variations (5)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

February Variations (4)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

February Variations (3)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

How to compose

Erin, in the middle of kindly linking here, says she can't imagine how you'd go about composing. Well, it's easy! Here's the Defeatist's Ten-Point Guide to Composing:

1. Take your instrument. If you don't have one, just sing or hum or something.

2. Play (or sing or hum) a tone. Carry on as long as you feel like it (or can without asphyxiating)

3. Now do another one.

4. And another.

5. Maybe you fancy playing a bunch of fast ones? Or not? Well, do or don't, whatever you feel like.

6. Maybe you fancy playing more than one at the same time? Well, why not? If you can only produce one tone at a time, consider having a friend handy.

7. Continue in this vein as long as you please.

8. Hey presto! You've just composed!

9. Write it down if you like. Or not. Doesn't really matter.

10. If you want to do something more complicated there'll probably be editing involved, but that's about it, really.

February Variations (1-2)

(Variations are on this.)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Somewhere beyond a thought

I didn't quite manage to achieve my aim of writing something for every day in January, but I got a respectable part of the way there. Somewhere in the middle of it all I reached my 500th post too, which chimes nicely with the thought that part of what this has been about is going back to how this blog started: Write something, get it out there, don't worry too much about whether it's any good, just write something.

So here are the January Pieces. Not all of them are "finished" pieces, though I think many of them would work if you just played them exactly as I wrote them down. To do that would be to miss some of the point, though.

There's more to it than getting over inertia, of course. Although I didn't write so much last year, I thought about the process of it all a great deal. Part of this is to do with exploring the possibilities of Just Intonation as a guiding principle (of which more anon) as well as the problems of notating it (more anon on this too), but there's a bit more to it than that, which shows in the fact that instead of the piano which I half-considered the sketches I put up here in 2005 to be for, all these are for my own instrument, the cello. there are several reasons for this. They're all practical, but also have more philosophical rationales lurking underneath. One is that as I'm beginning to explore a completely new method, and so starting from scratch, really, it's good to be able to experiment directly rather than try and imagine something that remains on paper until you can find someone else to play it. there's also the fact that you can't produce just intervals on a piano, and you can on a cello. But there's also the product of a lot of thought about what composing is and what role the composer has in music. I don't want to be one of those composers who doesn't play music, but has to rely on others to bring his work to life. I've always thought it's important for a composer to ave practical experience of performing, and I increasingly think this should be a primary focus. So these bits and bobs are meant to be the basis for a performance. Maybe not a finished "work", but a pool of ideas to dip into.