Saturday, November 29, 2008
This is just a quick note to say that I've put up a download of Malcolm doing his poem "My Poetry is Jamming Your Machine" on the website for your listening pleasure and edification. I'll get a few more clips converted and uploaded as well in the next few days.
I've spent the last few days re-doing Newset for Piano and Violin, as Mifune and Paul are playing it again on December 12th. I was never happy with the last section, it seemed a bit abrupt; and so it was, as I merely stopped the piece, like Wile E. Coyote stopped in mid-air after running off a cliff, because I had exceeded the specified time limit for the gig. So I went back and re-wrote much of the last section, prying bars apart and adding great gobs of stuff, trying to work out the material in more leisurely transitions. It was kind of fun, and you realize that you always throw away too many ideas without really developing them. To come back to something even just 6 -8 months later makes you look at it very differently, as you've now completely forgotten what you were thinking at the time.
Dalhaus points out that after the triumph of technology here in the future, (the land of food pills and aluminum-foil disposable clothing) we now view works of art as an on-going process (like Steve Reich would say) rather than a finished, free-standing autonomous objects, and as such, always open to technological innovation. The temptation for me, rather than doing new stuff, is to keep trawling over old pieces, thinking I can somehow rescue them. And somehow, it's also much easier than trying to start something new, facing that terrifying blank sheet of paper on the piano. But it's more like having to accept it when the Vet says that there's no way your pet is going to get any better, and needs to be put down. The thing might just be crap.
The next big thing is to start on a piece for Peter Britton's orchestra; I'm thinking it could be a test bed for a chamber opera I've been planning with Malcolm about Neal Cassady. Something about the leap from the hot-wired cars of On the Road, the Magic Bus of Ken Kesey, to the last manic walk down the railway tracks on a freezing night after a week-long bender in Mexico. One fast move and I'm gone...
And things move forward here as well, if slowly - I had a couple of good couple of days - lots of compositional sketching, and, finally, I got the electrics of the Guzzi wired up and functioning: turning it over on the battery, a spark appeared at the plugs, lights work, there were no huge arcs of light with accompanying funny smells. The only thing that prevented me from starting it today was the fact I had no oil in the crankcase; otherwise it only would have run for a very short time. So a good weekend, adding that to a daily run on the fixed through the winter showers - I think the word for it is "bracing."
However, it's always two steps forward and one back - the bread I was making on Sunday collapsed, the Wonderdog has a more-or-less permanent limp, and Ruth Padel couldn't do February. But probably Grevel Lindorp is going to do the gig in Chelmsford... more as I find out.
Two more weeks to home in the States for Christmas; fingers crossed that the Arts touring grant comes through for the Riprap project.