Composition Diary

Juncture II, New revisiting the Old

In 2011, during my master's year, I had the honour and pleasure of writing a piano work for my friend, Ian Pace. This work was the culmination of nine months of reading and writing, honing my composition craft, and expanding my repertoire of compositional techniques. While writing, I quickly realised that it could not be a stand-alone piece. For no logical reason, I named it Juncture I, and moved on. The title didn't make much sense to me at the time, but I decided upon it, and that was that. On reflection, this period was a juncture for me, I was moving in a different direction, the eventual destination was unclear. I completed the piece, submitted my master's degree, and forgot about it.

In early 2013 I started sketching a new piano piece. In some senses it was a return to an earlier style of construction; a cellular based compositional model, focused on making the most use of extremely constrained harmonic, and thus melodic, material. By this stage I had already begun my doctorate and was interest in Maximal pitch content, as opposed to Minimal. However, the sketch was what it was. I produced about fifteen bars, set it aside to focus on other projects, and it was left untouched. 

Two years later, and I've returned to this sketch. I could barely recognise the composer, and I certainly couldn't recognise the style. But it was still my content. I understood why it was the way it was, what it was doing, where it was going. Schönberg, in a moment of lucidity, put it:

I had a perfect vision of the whole work - of course, not in all the details, but in its main features. Style and Idea p.58, 1975, Ed. Leonard Stein, Faber & Faber, London.   

It's been challenging to engage with a model of composition that isn't in line with my current practice. The problem has become the solution. Many of my current interests revolve around making different kinds of things, ideas, materials, collide. A older version of my practice is colliding with my current practice, and I'm satisfied with the results.

Cellular self-perpetuating content is colliding with expansive chaotic form. Carefully constructed material grinds against stochastic processes. References emerge, dissolve, overwrite, corrupt other materials.

This new piece is the second part of the Juncture set. I suppose each of the pieces represents a different point of departure, although I expect that is true of all new pieces. 

I'm going to keep a kind of development diary of progress and ideas here. We'll see what happens with the piece. 

N.