28 June, 2011
Sustainable Vignettes

Sustainability is a bit of a bugaboo for me. Not really meant as a buzzword. Not like compliance. Bit of a word that gets thrown around at work. I cringe anytime someone mentions compliance. Nobody ever invokes that word if they have anything good to say.

I think I've mentioned before that I really try to find things that are sustainable. Things that I can continue day after day and week after week. Not easy, I can tell you. Work is draining, stressful, but not all the time. It's the motivation that gets drained out of you. The thing after thing after thing. It isn't even that there is always tons to do. There are breaks. Waves. Problem is that there never really are big breaks. Not really possible to take time away from work because there is always another important deadline right around the corner and there simply aren't enough people to take up the slack. This is where the drain really seeps in and creates its own problem. Energy and morale go down just a little bit more. Takes longer to get less done. Creates its own stress. Repeat.

Not my point outside of mentioning that work takes its toll. This requires time to rest while not at work. This leaves less leisure time that can be sacrificed to the stuff one would really much rather wish one were doing. Writing music. Composing fiction. Vomiting up amusingly anecdotal journal entries. Shit like that.

Brings me back around to figuring what is sustainable from week to week and month to year. I think I mentioned this before as part of the audiobook. Big reason I started it after the obvious reason of always wanting to do an one is figuring that I would be able to sustain it. Doesn't really require that much time or energy on any given day. Read through any given chapter on a day. Take half-an-hour. Editing takes longer. Don't know why I'm so obsessed with eliminating all evidence of breathing. Depending on the chapter that can take a lot of time. Hours and hours and hours. Finally gave that up. Just couldn't sustain the desire or energy. I've been really surprised by how much time I've found on my hands simply by not giving a shit any more about all the heavy breathing between the words.

Other things I've been kicking around for the sustainability factor has been a Shakespeare adaptation and really short music. Haven't gotten very far at all with the Shakespeare thing. Turns out I'm just not satisfied with following the plot. Sure, my notes do kind-of sort-of follow the basic outline of the play but not by much. Which has quite quickly made me realize that I have to put a lot more thought into it than I had ever intended. I've written about four scenes, and I'm nowhere near the actual beginning of the play. So, things hover between slow and stop on the fiction writing end. I will get to this. I'm determined. Just don't know when.

I'm also slightly more interested in pursuing the really short music idea. Struck me as a lot of fun. Short little pieces of music ranging anywhere from thirty seconds to three minutes. Emphasis on thirty seconds. Little more than musical ideas. Vapid little moments. Intrigues. Vignettes. That's the name I'm going with. Vignettes. I like the sound of it.

Also figure it would allow me greater freedom in the types and styles of music I could pursue. As much as I try to ignore it, I have yet to escape from the specter of acceptable music. I swear. It haunts me like a motherfucker. Echoes rumbling at the back of my head. Too derivative. Too old. Sounds like somebody doing a poor job imitating Clementi. Need to aim higher than something Bartok rejected from Microkosmos.

Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!

I'm not trying to sound like anybody else. I'm not trying to imitate anybody else. I'm not going for furniture music or great art. I just want to try shit. I just want to do what sounds cool at the time, but the voices of scorn and derision in my head just won't leave me the fuck alone. The curse of having gone to a snotty school where the serious minded musicians turned up their noses at the jazz program and all that assorted riffraff. First composers recital I was involved with, I wanted to add a line to the program called furniture music. Basically, the stage hands resetting the chairs and music stands would be the performers of this musical furniture. Nope, shot down. It just wasn't the kind-of serious minded thing that would fit the rest of the program.

So, yeah, the voices in my head just won't stop heckling me.

But small ideas. Little taste of this. Little bit of that. Ephemeral. Vignettes. Maybe, I could work with this. Take a week or three on each one. Yeah, stop right there. Laugh derisively. It'll be months. I just know it. But, we shall see.

So, of course, the first vignette I attempt was for string quartet, which had its own share of quite unexpected problems. The main one being that my computer just isn't that great at imitating string instruments. I spent a good week or two just trying to figure out what sounded okay on the computer. Didn't help that I was only getting to this maybe one night out of the week. Didn't help that the experimentation was keeping me up past 1 o'clock in the freaking morning on a work night.

But, the good news is that I've got something promising going. I've got unnaturally high hopes that I will finish my first silly little string vignette within the week. Hopefully post it soon. I've really got no idea if it sounds any good on real instruments, which is my hope. I know. I know. Nobody is actually ever going to perform these vignettes in real life, but it is the dream. In the meantime, I hope it sounds good enough on the computer.

Then, at least one more string vignette and then other instruments. Some woodwind or other and piano. Combinations of various things. All very short. One strange and probably stupid thought is to use overlapping ideas instead of being determined to have each vignette be absolutely unique. We shall see. Yes, we shall see. All dependent on what turns out to be sustainable.

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