Monday, 23 January 2017

My problem with alliterations, metaphors and other stylistic means

I was already suspicious when I learned about alliterations, metaphors and other stylistic means in school. I never understood the point of them. Then I was young enough to treat it like a game to identify those things in highly questionable poetry. Since then I've really struggled to see why you'd use them. It was a problem at University as an old-fashioned lecturer (a proper Modernist) really got off on fact, they were the best thing that could happen to music. I remember having to write an essay about an Oliver Knussen piece and because there was nothing at all interesting about it I wrote about the imagery and symbolism in it - as a joke. I remember laughing lot when I wrote it. Of course, I got an A. I was devastated. Anyway, I think I've just worked out what the problem is: People say that these stylistic means add weight to something, introduce other layers of meaning, open a discourse and so on. To me it feels like all they do is point away from its actual concrete self. It's a sign of a lack of confidence. If you could say it straight, why would you dress it in fancy things that might look pretty but hide the core. People will always make links, find contexts, create contexts, but as a creator I will keep staying away from those tools. It happens naturally anyway. You are never without context and everything that you do relates to something else, so why add to it artificially. Metaphor-lovers often call things that don't have these meta-layers "shallow". I love this shallowness because it allows me to add my own layers of meaning.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

I am currently involved in a rehearsal process. We have a weekend to create recordings of several pieces for a dance company to dance to. The total duration of the pieces is about 45 minutes. I finished the pieces and sent them to the ensemble six weeks before the rehearsal (they were particular about that date). Out of the six players three hadn't looked at it at all, two were fairly well prepared, one was so good that it's hard to tell. The day before the rehearsal they asked to start the nine hours of rehearsals 1.5 hours later and we finished the rehearsal 1.5 hours early. After 3 hours the people who hadn't looked at the music were already tired and started complaining a little. When I introduced them to an unusual playing technique that will get time to get used to, some of them worked it out straight away, others said after 8 minutes of trying that this is very hard and they don't know if it'll work (while others were proving that it does). Whatever I suggested was ignored. Playing the right notes was always the most important thing, even when I repeatedly said that the gesture is more important than the actual pitches (and in this case I couldn't have notated it differently).
Don't get me wrong, they all seemed like lovely people and I understand that there is a reason for every problem there is. I'm sure some of them were a little ashamed that they were underprepared, and every person deals with professional situations differently. What I'm wondering is: how the hell have we ended up in a situation like this? As a composer you feel that players really don't care about the piece and what you are trying to do. It's just another project in a world where there is either too many projects at once, so no one has time to prepare anything (as one of them said) or no work. And this is not an exceptional situation. I travelled abroad for this experience. It's a universal experience. And of course there are exceptions, otherwise I would have given this up a long time ago.
But one thing has become clear one too many times now: this typical traditional "professional" situation of an established ensemble commissioning a work, rehearsing and performing is not for me. It's just too perverse to be stuck in a room with people who don't want to be there and who have to play my music to me when they really don't care about it.
I know that performers see this differently and I'm sure that there are mostly valid reasons why people don't have time to rehearse or don't have the energy to be interested in a piece. Performers also might want to blame inconsiderate composers who demand too much.
Whatever the reasons are, the fact is that this is what we have ended up with in this business and I'm just not prepared to accept it. No, it's not a case of "Well, that's how it is and we have to deal with it." because it's shit, it's not productive and, most importantly, it's not humane. I noticed how it don't enjoy hearing my own music anymore in an environment like this. It used to be thrilling. Now the thrill has gone and the perversion of the situation has revealed itself. It makes me miserable and and I'm not going to do this anymore. If you don't think it's a problem, then please do carry on. I won't. I've had enough. If I want to keep creating events that are essential to my life I have to keep looking for ways of working that are productive and fun (yes, FUN is enormously important!) for everyone.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Rules for creating music today:

  • Writing material is not the same as creating a piece.
  • If you start writing without knowing what you are doing, you are not in the process of writing a piece.
  • There is no reason for writing a piece in three movements.
  • People who don't like playing a certain type music should not do so.
  • People who don't like playing a certain type of music should not charge other people for hearing it.
  • If you only play classical music by dead composers, you have to be aware that you are working in a museum.
  • Playing a piece technically well has more to do with sport than art.
  • A piece that was created in 1816 is less relevant to today's society than a piece created in 2016.
  • If you repeat something because it worked before you are making a commercial decision, not an artistic one.
  • Imagining how an audience would respond is patronising.
  • Putting on a programme that you think people will like is patronising.
  • Poems should not be set to music. It has never been a good idea.
  • If you are concerned with colour when writing music you're a decorator.
  • to be continued

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


Ultimately, writing music makes me sad.
I try my best, but even if the music is good, it distances me more from everyone.

Friday, 20 September 2013

so lonely

When you don't belong to any group, you're an outsider. It's a great position to create art from. You can observe things properly and evaluate them properly.
But you get lonely. You get used to be lonely when making art. That's ok. It's actually quite fun because you're not really alone. It's quality time with your material.
But then comes the day when suddenly you realise that because you're an outsider you don't have any support in those organisations that give out money. You keep applying for funding for new things but it's getting harder and harder when you have the feeling that your ideas are getting better and better. What seems to be happening is that you in all your outsider-ness are more and more drifting apart from the people who finance art projects. That's proper loneliness, on your own, not belonging AND split from the funders. So, what do you do? If you continue being true to your work, you stay in the loneliest place in the world. I was just thinking about the other possibilities, but the only other possibility I can think of is to stop making art and do something else...

Monday, 1 July 2013

Hello public,
this is my blog. I will blog here soon. This is just a test to see if all looks good.