10 July 2017

henningmusick: The stock-taking

henningmusick: The stock-taking

Friday at lunchtime, I did my research into Scene 7, and blocked out the progress of Scene 9. Friday evening, I largely did the work of importing, adapting, and recomposing; at the end of the day (to use that tired phrase in a strictly literal sense) I was not sure that I didn't want to throw the whole thing out.

Saturday morning, I refined and expanded upon Fridays child.  As I have frequently found over the years, any day when I think I probably want to chuck the work Ive just done, the music probably just wants a little attention the next day. The work is seldom any major overhaul, nor is the result anything less than completely satisfactory to the composer's ear—it was simply a two-day process. Not as a length of time, but two separate courses of the sun. As far as I can judge, this is simply the nature of my work, and not any inefficiency.

Sunday morning, I finished the scene. I had all the rest of the day to consider and reconsider, and at press time I do feel that Scene 9 is done.

Which means that in the less than three weeks since I have resumed active ownership of the task of completing the White Nights, I have completed two scenes, totaling about 16 minutes of music. Arguably, the work, perhaps, ought to be considered something easier, since all the source material (whether Rossini or Henning) was already available. But active musical intelligence was required, and I consider this to be three weeks of earnest musical effort very well spent.

The present mp3 “playlist” for White Nights runs 1:32:36, and the plan for the remainder of the ballet is for 45 minutes of music (some small portion of which is already composed, in full or in part, whenever I reach the point of those numbers). At last, I think it is fair to say that the piece is two-thirds done.

(I’m not going to get hung up on whether I really finish the piece before 1 January 2018. It’s an entirely realistic goal; but I shall be content if I simply continue to make steady progress.)

While I am thinking of composing (the very short) Scene 10, I am already taking thought for getting all the numbers of the ballet laid out and ready for publication . . . and this is a benefit drawn from the completed Symphony. Thought alone am I not taking, but Action also; I am going back to all the individual Sibelius files, and changing the paper size to 10"x15" and confirming the staff size of 5mm, which is what Lux Nova Press prefer for the conductor’s score of an orchestral piece, so long as the orchestra is not huge; and although my practice has favored “optimizing” the systems, so that instruments which are not playing in a given system of the score are ‘dropped out’, the nature of my music makes such a score an unnecessary burden on the conductor, who will not know from system to system what the fourth staff from the top is (e.g.). So with the exception of an extended passage from which (say) the entire brass choir can be omitted with visual clarity, we’ll have all the staves on every page. That will take a little bit of layout massage for the existing numbers, but it actually simplifies things for all the number here on out (actually, from Scene 8 on, since I took the lesson earlier this year. The White Nights orchestra is large, but not genuinely huge; space only really gets squeezed when I divide the strings much (quite a bit in Scenes 7 & 9).

So the first phase of the work is massaging the Sibelius files on screen; the second phase, printing out and proofing from hard copy – because I know my eye is going to miss things, if I plan on only reading on screen.

There is no reason why this work cannot be concurrent with continuing composition of the further numbers.

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