Thursday, December 9, 2010

Birthing a Project, and Choosing the Tools

This week, I am doing some paperwork.  I am on a music jury reviewing some proposals which is due soon.  I am also finally getting to finish the progress report from my residency at IRCAM this summer, which is also due.  I am also at the moment, beginning stage of several compositions, including two commissions: a duo with cellist Joel Krosnick, and for the Cassatt String Quartet.   And, I am also working with several students at Juilliard on building their projects.   In another words, this is a week of "birthing" the projects.

I think composers approach a new project in different ways.  Sometimes, especially when you are starting out, you might feel overwhelmed, and the overwhelming feeling could get multiplied when it involves technology, as the possibilities are just too vast, as I mentioned in my earlier entry "Freedom and Limitations".   In one of these cases, I have suggested to some students who claims to be "stuck", in fact, to start writing the program notes first! :) Composers compose because they have desire to express, before they know which tools, motifs, the building blocks they will use.  Sometimes, it is useful to spell it out trying to explain to others what you are trying to express, which could help in fact, in choosing the tools you need.  It's like watching my children play; sometimes the tools are already in front of them, for example, a play-dough, and the tools themselves inspire them to create.  Sometimes the play-dough gets to be combined with something that happen to be lying around, such as wooden blocks or LEGO (yikes!), and become multi-media productions.

Sometimes they have something specific they want to make, and they seek the tools they need to make that happen.  And when the tools turn out to be unavailable, (such as scotch tapes this mom fiercely guard against being exploited!) they go to the end of the earth to find the substitute for their projects.  Or sometimes, when they only have sticks, leaves and stones in the field, they still manage to create a theater if they want to.   The will and desire to create, and functions that enable them, are most important; the tools are always of secondary importance.

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