25 July 2018

Writing in the Past

A not-quite-chance discovery this morning set me to laughing.

12 years ago, I began a sketch for Intermezzo III.  What was I doing 12 years ago?

At this remove, both revisionism and mis-recollection are risks, so lightly let me tread.  Last year, as I took complete ownership of resuming work on White Nights, and taking complete stock of “inventory,” I found ‘trunks’ of both Intermezzi II & III, which I composed in 2006.  Even in the case of Intermezzo II, this work was a departure from my established practice in the ballet, of working in a fairly straightforwardly linear fashion.  Scene 8 (or, what we now know as Scene 8) was the sticking point – I knew in principle just what I wanted in the scene, I had plotted what was either a possible solution, or the draught towards the True Solution.  But I was waiting for that ineffable partnership of Inspiration, and a Certainty in the task.  Out of impatience, perhaps, I set to work on the Intermezzo which would follow Night the Second, even though I was nowhere near winning my way to that point, in 2006.

In 2006, I brought Intermezzo II to substantial completion (although, as detailed here, I found that it wanted a bit more than ‘mere finishing’).  Apparently, I then made a start on Intermezzo III.

Over the years, there was certainly in the back of my White Nights mind, not exactly a record, but the shadow of a record of this start on Intermezzo III.  Last year, I had a good (but not distractingly penetrating) look at “the old Intermezzo III.”  Yet, I appear to have forgotten all about in the interval.  (Do we ever really forget anything?  Ask me some day when I’m trying to locate my car keys.)

Why am I laughing at the present discovery (rediscovery, really)?

The only woodwinds I make use of in Scene 11 are clarinets (including bass clarinet);  the brass compliment is also reduced to horns and trumpets.

In my new plan (devised this week) for Intermezzo III, as a timbral contrast the clarinets, horns and trumpets are out.  As seen in my notes of this week (Exhibit A), the brass tones were moving to the trombones and tuba;  and I have written Flute staccato invention.

The first five measures of the start I made in 2006 on the Intermezzo (Exhibit B) consist solely of bass trombone, tuba . . . and flutes playing staccato.

Was this lodged in my memory?  (We don’t need to reach back 12 years, since this page fell under my gaze almost exactly a year ago.)  Maybe.  I thought I had freshly reached a notion of relying on trombones and flutes as part of the “rain-sodden” music, only now;  but maybe I only retraced my mental steps.  Well, I have done more than that, as the chorale which I created yesterday is absolutely a new compositional element here.

So what do I do with the old sketch?  I suppose it is just possible to find an environment for it more or less within the new plan for the Intermezzo.  I am at once greatly amused at the (re-)discovery, and chuckling at how it must be right.  Over the years of writing, or not writing, White Nights . . . I knew I would get to it, knew that the piece would be finished.  And I knew my determination that the whole would be the best that I could make it, and that it would work as an organic whole – I was not going to let my ballet “go Rossignol.”

So:  Watch This Space.

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