Starting about two weeks ago I felt a sudden shift in me where my desire or sense of need to be on the internet cut itself in half. It happened randomly one afternoon around 5:00, and I just said – I”m not going to touch the computer again today. No lives were lost. To replace what I now see as a bunch of unhealthy waisted time on the computer I have a huge new space in my lift to do other things. So I have started reading books. I’m doing something like 30-45 minutes a day which will get you a book in about a week, which means if I keep doing this it will be dozens per year.
My first hunch was to check out books on contemporary philosophy. I find it very healthy, not just because of the content, but because of the process of reading. My thinking is clarifying.
This is showing itself in my composing. What I am doing is clarifying my attention and remembering how I use to do it. The answer is simple – the primary thing I do to compose is to listen. Not to think. Some thinking sneaks in here or there but mostly it is listening and intuition. This use of intuition is most obvious with melodies but also helpful in harmonies. I find that I can wander into something where I don’t know quite what I am doing but I end up landing exactly in the right place.
Listening could be hearing something in your head (audiation) but for me it is at the piano. Some people swear by this, some think it’s a terrible idea. For me though, that’s what I’m doing. I got my piano tuned a month or so ago and it sounds better than it has in a long time, and I listen very carefully and play as musically as I can when I am formulating sections of the piece. The sound is my compass; not the rational mind.
I”ve taken this to Do Not Stand and it’s starting to feel much more relaxed, focussed, and effective. I made some pretty big changes from yesterday to today, I switched it to sort of minor to totally major. I had been pushing myself to make it faster and more active, because I tend to fall into quarter equals 60 all the time, but it wasn’t working, so what I am doing is indulging my tendencies and making this flat out slow. I think the world has enough speed in it. Going slow means I need to avoid long phrases because voices won’t be able to sing them – that is something that is now half intuition half intellect.
I also find that by just slowing things down you don’t actually need to repeat any lines. This is important here because the poem is short, and only if I roll the words slowly will I get a piece long enough to really surround the listener’s brain.