Monthly Archives: May 2010

Evolution of a Wind Band

The last post I published was written nearly a month ago. Since then I turned 27, saw Steve Reich perform and spent very little time working on music.

The wind band that I talked about has also changed – percussion will be permitted (and encouraged) thanks to the profound impact of Mr. Reich and percussionists.

And two flutes have been added thanks to a generous and wonderful birthday gift I received:

I also have plans to rent a baritone sax to fill out the bottom end. So much for staying focussed.

Wind – part 2

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Problems of Organization

I’ve been feeling distracted lately. Distracted by the mess of instruments, records, cds and books that I somehow manage to pile around me. It’s as if I’m building fortifications.

About a month ago I decided that it was time to clean, purge and organize. Easily said, agonizingly done. Deciding which records to keep and which to discard is not so easy. It sound stupid, but it feels as if I’m making important life-altering decisions.

I was also ashamed to find many of my consumptive enterprises left to rot, collect dust or forgotten. Of the 104 Haydn symphonies (I bought them all, on an impulse, on sale in a box) I’ve heard ten. Of Mahler’s nine (again: an impulse, a sale, a box) I’ve actually sat through two without wandering away. Chaos without, chaos within.

So I’ve made some rules – all of them broken before the cleaning-gutting-purging was even half-finished – to try to keep myself on track.

1)Don’t put on music unless you want to hear something specific

2) Don’t buy more music – you have enough

3) Don’t wander (mentally or physically) while you listen

It’s helped. The first real fruit of this labour has been Mozart. I know, I know – discovering Mozart is no big shakes. He’s only been top of the pops for 200 years. But actually hearing Mozart, discovering the joy in a perfectly voiced, phrased and placed melody line, has been a revelation. Five years ago I thought he was fluff. (Why then did I impulse-buy the complete piano concertos? On sale, in a box, not heard for years!)

This has led me to some other rules about my own music making:

1) Use a predetermined ensemble of instruments, understand how it works together and write music for the way it sounds.

The ensemble that I have decided on (inspired by Mozart’s wind-band music) consists of:

2 Baritone Euphonium

2 Alto Clarinets

2 Clarinets

2 Alto Saxophones

I would love to have 2 flutes and 2 trumpets to brighten the sound. My non-western flutes are a little too idiosyncratic and my trumpet playing doesn’t even blow – it sucks.

I’m about to turn 27 and I want everything to be as neat and clean as possible.

Wind – part 1