Saturday, May 3, 2014

Final Reflections on the Messiaen Project.

The Messiaen Project has come to an end.  It is ever so bittersweet.  On hand I am relieved.  This project was a lot of work.  I was bound, at times shackled, by Messiaen's techniques.  There were many times when I really wanted to compose freely, but I resisted.  I achieved my goal of 52 pieces, and that feels good.

On the other hand, I am sad to be leaving this project.  It has been an important part of my artistic output, and an important part of my week.  It was constantly on my mind throughout the past year.  Finishing these projects is kind of like moving to a new town or something.  On to bigger and better things, but I will always look back on this period with fondness.

Last night I played a solo concert of some of the pieces at the Bloomingdale School of Music.  It was a wonderful night.  I felt connected to the music and the audience.  Some audience members sent me kind emails afterward, which was nice.  It's nice to know that I'm connecting to people in some way.  Chen Chu took some nice photos of me sharing the whale story (See Majesty October 10, 2013):

I always start these projects with certain expectations, and they often end up going differently than I first imagined.  I envisioned that this past year would be a period of intense study of Messiaen's music and writing.  After reading The Technique of My Musical Language from cover to cover at the beginning, I rarely looked at it again.  In fact I listened to no more than five minutes of Messiaen's music this whole year!  As I wrote in a few posts, I think listening to Messiaen would have made his sound too strong of an influence, and if I had been trying to imitate his sound, my pieces certainly would have been pale in comparison.  Also, I take pride in the fact that most of my pieces are quite unlike Messiaen's.  There's a reasons for that: genius versus regular guy.  But it's also a testament to the idea that we are all unique individuals.   No matter how rigid we structure ourselves, we all still have important, unique voices.  With all that said, I'm happy to report that I did develop a strong relationship with most of the modes.  More and more as the project progressed, I was hearing my way through the scale rather than following notes.

The taste in my mouth is that of gratitude.  These projects have become a more and more important part of my artistic output.  Thank you listeners and readers.  I'm so happy to be able to include you into my process.  It's personal, it's messy, it leaves me vulnerable, but I am glad I'm doing it.  Little by little, ever so slowly, I am able to present more and more of my true self to the world.  Someday I will be fully open, and that will be special.

Along those lines of sharing, I've written a lot about the effect the internet has had on me and us in this project.  This is an amazing time of sharing, and I'm thankful for it.   I've needed to make some personal adjustments of attitude and lifestyle in order to keep my focus and intentions in the right place.  And I've of course needed to keep in mind that the very nature of this project is dependent on the internet, and I take pride in my use of it in this way.

Well, the question is posed.  What is next?  As usual, I've had many ideas for what could come next throughout the course of the Messiaen Project.  I've settled on something a little different.  The wonderful weekly schedule of this project has it's positives and negatives.  It's good for keeping me on my toes and keeping me moving forward.  But I've been desiring something on a longer time scale.  Something that would allow me to work the kinks out of the content.  So I'd like to introduce to my next project which I'll call 12 Films With Music.  I'm looking forward to it very much.

Once again, I'd like to thank all of you who have checked out the Messiaen Project.  Thanks to you who have listened to the recordings, read the posts, or asked me how it's going.  You rule.  I think I'll go listen to the Vignt Regards now.

52.) Purple May 1, 2014

Well, this is the final piece of the project.  I'm filled with many emotions, but I'll save that for the final reflections post, which I will write immediately after this post.

Purple utilizes just one transposition of Messiaen's fourth mode.  I enjoyed constructing major seventh and minor seventh chords out of it.  The piece has a discernible melody, but still brings emphasis to the ringing of the piano, at least this was my intention.

Speaking of that, I would like to mention a little of what's been going on in my compositional mind for the last month or so.  If you've been an avid follower of my stuff (thanks!), you've read a lot about my dealing with outside influences.  Well this last month has been more about dealing with inside influences.  My piece, Soil, from April 5th, is very special to me.   It's something that I could write only after composing a weekly piece for almost two years.  It's a culmination of many things for me.    I have some really ridiculous ideas about that piece.  I keep having thoughts that it might be a moment of important realization.  It might be the pinnacle of everything I've ever written.  It might be a turning point.  It could be the moment in my work where everything came into focus.  It's my Rothko rectangles realization, or my Morton Feldman long and quiet repetitive pieces realization.  This is what I'm going to do from here on out!  These are scary thoughts to admit, actually.  Can I possibly know if it really is such an important piece at this time?  Can I really be this objective about my own work?  Am I crazy?  The piece is just a handful of measures, how can it be that important?  Well, part of me really wants to believe that Soil is one of those moments.  And I want it to be so badly, that I in a way forced myself to write the rest of the pieces in line with it.  It was not necessarily difficult to compose in this style - slow, repetitive, with an emphasis on the overtones of the piano, because I love it so much.  However, in regard to time, it was somewhat forced.  I had to push these ideas out, rather than let the emerge naturally.  I kept looking for something in line with Soil, but unique enough in itself to feel as important to me as Soil did.  None of the pieces afterward did that, although I like all of them.  If I'm going to write something that meets that criteria, I think it's going to have to emerge more naturally.  Soil really came out of nowhere in a way.  It just happened upon me.  If I chose to go forward with this style of writing, I think it will need to happen at a slower pace.

It's quite interesting to me how I've needed to deal with my self in this regard.  It seems that I've managed to inspire myself to a questionable point.  Can I really take myself so seriously?  This is the same thing that I dealt with back in the Weekly Composition Project, when I would hear an inspiring performance by a colleague, and then unnaturally imitate it in the next several improvisation, usually to ill effect.  And now I've run into this problem with myself.  Life is cyclical, I guess.  How entertaining...I love observing the process!

Anyway, Purple gets it's title from the some of the most beautiful tulips in my neighborhood.  These things seem so happy it's Spring - holding their heads high and proud.  I've been walking past them every time I walk the dog.