22 March 2018

Because I do not shirk from splitting certain hairs

Now, in this quietly tense interval between having finished Down Along the Canal to Minerva Road, and our first rehearsal, I already have the thought of arranging it for (say) brass quartet.

I wonder if the time will come (this side of the grave) when my pieces are regularly performed, as I write them, so that I shed the subconscious habit of trying to improve their chances, by a multitude of instrumentation options.  I am not think so much of Minerva Road in this regard (since we shall perform it in April) but, of course, of pieces like Counting Sheep, Nun of the Above, Things Like Bliss, Ear Buds, It’s all in your head (not that that’s a bad place for everything to be), just what everyone was expecting, &c.

This April concert is a musical-muscle-flexing exercise in another regard.  I have so habitually played (nearly) only my own music, that I am unused to preparing – not difficult music, since I do write myself sufficient challenges (Irreplaceable Doodles, Blue Shamrock, the Clarinet Sonata, e.g.)  But I know my own language.  It is some while since I needed to address a challenging piece, on the clarinet, from the pen of another.  The piece is entirely achievable, and is beautiful music;  so dadgummit, I’ve just got to roll the sleeves up, and practice.

In case that sounded like a complaint – I find, all over again, that I do simply love playing.  Maybe if I had all the time through the week for musical activity, and played/practiced more faithfully/rigorously, the bloom would fade from the rose.  (But maybe it would not.)  In any event, time spent with the clarinet is (at the risk of sounding sentimental) a gift.  The clarinet has been a part of my life for 50 years now.

Which, considering that I am not a professional instrumentalist, astonishes me, at any rate.

Minerva Road is where I lived when I was at my youngest.  Whenever my family went for any extended drive (visiting grandparents in Jersey, vacationing in Montréal), the sight of the canal on the return trip signaled to me that we were nearly home.  I do not say that the musical style into which my piece reaches, was familiar to me in those early days (I rather doubt it was), so consider that aspect of the piece figurative, and “dramatically true” without being documentary.  The piece is an affectionate view of, rather than an exercise in, nostalgia.

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