Today marks a significant point in my life, for two reasons.
August 28, 2013 marks the first official day of my graduate career at the University of Texas at Austin. Granted, the day consisted of ONE class (16th Century Counterpoint) which I thoroughly loved, but nonetheless it was a positive beginning and I refuse to complain about the thin schedule (I know the work load will thicken soon enough).
Today also marks the commencement of a new project/experiment of mine. My short-term goal is to log a musical journal entry every day to the end of September. At first glance this may seem like a relatively easy task, but there are a few problems that arise. Not unintentionally, they are problems I hope to break apart within the next month. Let me explain.
The challenges that arise from asking oneself to compose a decently significant amount of music every day is a bit daunting. I know a lot of composers today, especially young composers, find the concept of eight minutes of set music a month to be demanding, let alone what I’ve estimated will be an average of two to three minutes of music per day (approximately ninety minutes of music for the month). First off, I have always been extremely grateful of my ability to write decent music fairly prolifically. This is one of the primary reasons I feel I would succeed in the film music industry. Regardless of my output abilities, I am not intending to write “decent” music within these logs at all – my goal is to record myself improvising what I hear and feel, warts and all. This guideline I’ve given myself to avoid editing and picking at any cost immediately makes the act of composing easier – “fixing” composed music sucks up at least 2-3 times the amount it took to actually write the garbage in question, and even then it is molded by deadlines rather than a sense of finality. One of my old band directors and close colleagues once said, “For composers and arrangers, there is no finishing – only deadlines.” As a composer who practically lives on deadlines now, this statement rings truer than true. In a way, strictly and simply “improvise composing” relates to the light side of the force and its tempting editorial counterpart is the dark side (see above geeky quote). And so it is that editing music to an acceptable form of presentation has been forbidden in this exercise (ooh, scary!). The purpose is to simply write and vent, musically and emotionally, very much as the typical journal operates.
Furthermore, I hope this experiment proves a successful avenue for learning more about myself. Of late I have been reading more Taoist literature in the search for a spiritual idea that resonates personally with me and offers solace in times of hardship. Out of all the religions, writings, and beliefs I have been thrust into over the past many years, Taoism is steadily proving a continual light of comfort and understanding. I feel this is in large part due to its focus on “knowing thyself” – finding a deeper understanding of the Tao, the source and motivator for everything that exists. I recently heard a quote by Hans Zimmer, while watching a riveting YouTube video interview, that stated, “Here’s the thing about composers: I’m very comfortable right now talking to you, because I’m hiding behind a secondary language…but, when I play you something, that’s really me. Do you know what I mean? I’m completely fragile and vulnerable.” The statement is spot on, and I find no better and more direct examination of myself than through what I write. So, in many ways, this journal will prove an avenue of insight and examination of my consciousness in the most intimate way I can imagine. I in NO way profess a deep and mystical understanding of Taoism (I’ve barely even scratched the surface of all the literature), but this marks my first intentional investigation into the spiritual ideas in association with my music.
So now that we have the necessary information to validate the incessant number of social media posts I will be making through September, let’s dive head first into my first entry. The whole process that this journal will take is still fairly unknown to me. As of now I don’t wish to analyze or affix meaning to anything I am writing, I simply want to record some music and let it out there for interested ears to hear. Want to leave feedback and constructive criticism? Go ahead! Want to listen and then forget? Be my guest! Perhaps you’ll hear an idea that strikes a chord within you, and want to discuss the log? Message me anytime and I will return your queries enthusiastically. At the heart of all I do is collaboration, and even in this intimate and personal expression of myself I welcome all of your thoughts and ideas, points of interest and extra-musical connections. Let’s make some music…
Journal Entry – August 28, 2013:
Heads up: It sounds far more cool with headphones or superb speakers.