Visions, philosophies, can help people set goals and find paths, but they can also become incarcerating dogmas that limit creative freedom. So, be careful about philosophies and be brutally honest with yourself: The only way to become a better composer is to ask yourself the right questions.
I have always had this ‘Vision’ of what to write. Because I started composing out sheer boredom and personal frustration with the fact that ‘my musical world’ had been taken over by atonal bookkeepers. I do not want to play dissociative, formless and emotionless music, distorted, like the women painted by Picasso. I think it’s very painful to be ‘objectified’ for women, as well as it is for Music.
When I meet people judging my music and forming opinions about it, I discovered that the current ‘modern art’ philosophy doesn’t work with my own Visions. So I’m uncovering my own philosophy. But one thing I’m sure about: My music consists of story-lines, emotions, drama, dreams, catharsis. I write Stories with Music.
How I work
How I developed ‘How I Work’
My first composition, Gulden Sporen, I started with a simple story lay out. But I had too many characters and scenes and ended up in chaos.
This Form lacked that perfect moment for this one huge climax, so I used the ‘anatomy of story’ from J. Truby and the energy curve of ‘the addiction formula’ and layered them on top of each other.
Then I wrote music again, from the perspective of one character with that.
Thomas Trachsel (MOD 2018) advised me I should ‘sit in an emotion to produce the music’. I did this last spring, and used a phrase of Dvorak to see if a phrase of a master would help me. I ended up with a boring, thick orchestrated composition.
And it proved my ‘necklace theory’: you can help a boring necklace with improved orchestration, but this still music isn’t really good.
After this frustrating event, I layered a mathematical form that proved to work in other music, on top of the addiction formula:
And I tried to make a musical interpretation of it:
These studied how to use ‘seeds’ of just a few notes: Every combination of 4 notes makes for a whole different composition.
Nice thing about this is, you don’t have to use the chronological timeline itself as a composition. This approach facilitates writing non chronological writing and I will still be able to plan ahead story-lines and climaxes in it.
How structures, FORMS, help create and SEE the unimaginable.
I use architectural or dramatic forms when I start writing a composition. For me form is like an elastic structure supporting a growing, blossoming rose-bush. There is no rose-garden, nor Music, without Architecture of some form.
When I start writing, I let Music flow through a form, like a rose would grow through a structured elastic rose gate. Form helps me conduct Music before I write it down, so I can feel the Music over time flowing through the form, before I start writing all the notes.
I find it very important to imagine the form of music. Only when I can see the unimaginable, I can make out the rules by which it functions and write it down. Drawing a form, a curve, a map, see-ing the Music, the fantasy, the unimaginable, before writing it down, “simply” helps writing Music. But remember, the simplest solution is the most elegant one, not the easiest.
All my compositions are experiments with form within my own imaginary Story-world: The Universe of Miracles. For example, there is a rose-garden in the Universe of Miracles, to remind me of Form, to help me imagine new forms I can be found sitting in that garden, looking at those roses growing through the elastic porches I created.
Reflections of the Book of Miracles, the how and why, are woven into my Universe of Miracles and can be seen on the map, turned into a what. Imagining the rose-garden again, when it blossoms, we won’t see the structuring form anymore, we walk around and enjoy the bushes, flowers, view, scent, butterflies, whatever we imagine belonging there. Walking along the roses, a reflection of the form, a how, inspires me ‘what’ to write.
An oeuvre needs a FORM too.
I think of my Oeuvre, as a living creature. It needs to have any Form or it won’t exist. Happily confuse oeuvre with the French oeuff. Always embrace confusion. You will see spring, seeds sprouting, each time you see your bigger picture.
Most learning environments are designed to re-create, not to create. It’s difficult to learn and even more teach composition. There is no chronological, nor any logical order in which you need information to improve what you are working on.
I think, for now, that this is caused by the need to zoom in and out while learning: While writing an articulation for an instrument, you have to get into detail, while thinking about what to write, you have to zoom out and overlook the (maybe still empty) musical universe of your oeuvre. For the articulation, you need to research an instrument, for your oeuvre you might want to learn about music history and where your work fits into that timeline.
The Map of Miracles is the form of my living Oeuvre.
Form is needed to create unity within an oeuvre as well as a composition. Besides the Music being recognizable, sounding like ‘me’, form helps all the compositions to work together as a whole, converging towards one artistic goal. I think form helps the creative process propel in a consciously chosen direction. Structure, form, helps the imagination and organization of Art at the same time. A good organization of your work helps open up and add new creative thinking. I iterate creative chaos with organization to improve my work. Structuring my oeuvre made it possible to integrate new creativity.
The best form frees creativity and structures it at the same time.
My oeuvre has the form of a map: The map of the Universe of Miracles. Each location, character, route, encounter is associated with a piece of music.
Since time is an illusion in this musical world, all the compositions are already there. These are the blanc spots on the map. I still need to write them down for us to play and hear them.
Exploring the Map of Miracles I can discover the areas, locations, habitats and characters, as shown on the map. And I can imagine new routes, travel to unknown territory and draw new land on the map. I can meet characters and let them travel a route through my Musical Landscape. Each new composition will add something to the map, the map will develop along with my Work of Arts.
The Map will develop, alter, fold, tear, renew, every time a new composition is added. The continuously changing map will inspire to write new compositions. All the works are now connected, I can see them, remember, revisit or avoid them.
Using the Map of Miracles, I can do all this, without getting lost in my Musical Universe and come Home again and again for a New Beginning. I can keep wondering, wander around, stay curious and use my experiences to improve and explore new Music.
Locations on the Map start as sketches: #Beads
These pieces are written without traditional Harmony theory, keys, form, meter etc. This is just me, being me. Speaking through Music, because words failed, about a difficult subject.
Starting from Silence, Singing without words, Contrasts start appearing spontaneously, first times and new beginnings.
Air-Conducting, feeling whether it is ‘right’, what I needed to hear. Scribbling on a paper, playing the piano.
I am trying to discover what ‘intoned’ and ‘inpulsed’ composing means. Where Music isn’t about systems anymore, but tuned and tapped within ones own Harmony and Pulse.
Experimenting on the piano:
After making the above, I start writing the score in a digital environment, working on the details of the flow of the melodies.