Last night I had a dream that I was writing a clarinet concerto and the entire piece was there in my mind just waiting for me to write it down. I just wanted to get to my computer and get it all notated. In my dream, I commented to my wife that this is such a rare occurrence for me as composing is usually having a general idea of what I'm trying to achieve and then lots of perspiration figuring out how to make it work. Of course, when I woke up from this dream, I didn't remember any of the piece that was so clear to me while sleeping. This dream reminded me that some composers may receive such inspiration, but it has rarely ever happened to me. The closest I have come is when I was writing a piece for the Euphouria Quartet called "In Remembrance, September 11, 2001". The ideas for this piece just flowed so easily and served as an emotional release from that tragic time.
So back to reality and the beginning of the 2nd movement of Grass Roots. This movement is called "Conflict" and very generally depicts opposing forces in the debate to conserve our country's beauty and history for all to enjoy. My initial idea came very easily but it has taken me about two hours to write the first 10 measures. I have decided to blog today because of the contrast between my dream and reality. After working some this morning, I am now temporarily stuck. When I get stuck, it is usually time for me to take a break from the piece and come back to it with fresh ears. Hopefully tomorrow or the next day, I'll figure out what comes next. Sometimes that happens when I'm not even composing, like when I lie in bed waking up in the morning or taking a walk. A lot of times the problem gets solved by listening to what I have written over and over again. Occasionally I need to experiment with using some material from earlier in the piece, but I try not to construct my music. I prefer to let my ear tell me where the piece needs to go. On rare occasions, I discover that the what I have written actually works better later in the piece and I need to write a new beginning. My next blog will report how I solved this problem.
To see and hear what I have composed thus far, go to http://www.cooppress.net/grass_roots_blog.html