12 August 2013

An eye to the end

While bringing my paper sketches for the voice-unaccompanied stanza of The Mystic Trumpeter into the Sibelius file yesterday, I do not mind confessing, there were two places where it was necessary to make on-the-spot changes.  The rhythmic profile was true, but the effect was rushed. (I was writing away, riding on the Orange Line, and lost temporary sight of the tempo, I suppose.)  It was an easy matter to augment the rhythmic values, and with the added benefit of (I think) some greater emotional weight.
I had to recompose the rhythm of one other measure, because (frankly) rapine is a word which I had read any number of times, but never heard spoken;  so I composed that measure assuming the accent on one syllable, but with a mental note to check the pronunciation, and at the ready to re-compose as might be needed.  And needed, it was.
Still undecided on whether to add a note or two of clarinet at key points of the voice-unaccompanied stanza.  Maybe it works fine as is;  maybe it will work fine with the spare note or two from the accompanying instrument.  Perhaps I shall scribble in those two notes, and mark them “optional.”  I have a couple of days to mull;  it is nice, not to need to rush some artistic decisions (another argument for getting the process going earlier, I suppose).
On this morning’s train, got a good start on the setting of the final stanza.  I recall my state of mind, perhaps two weeks ago, when I was faced with three substantial stanzas yet;  much better these days, feeling that each section is shaping up just as I had wished. (And, I might almost add, feeling that they’re turning out better than I deserve.) In each case, you might say, planning failed;  but when I sat down to the page with pen in hand, I found the solution there.  For the final song of Joy, the two lines pursue different arcs, but will combine (I hope) ecstatically.
This morning, I read through the entire piece to this point.  There is a place or two over which, in my mental recollection, I had felt the tug of some reservation;  but as I review the actual score, I am inclined to feel that it all works quite well.  Again, this is a test I shall run more than once over the coming days.  When I have been working over such a stretch of time on a piece, I strongly entertain doubts whether I have succeeded in holding the whole thing together with proper cohesion, with sufficient tensile strength in the unfolding musical narrative.  If it is strange to say so of a project which has, after all, been occupying my attention for weeks, I find myself rather pleasantly surprised, to find (at the moment, at least) that I think it works very well.
Of course, I’ve yet to write the end . . . the piece must at the least end well . . . .

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