Clarity & Community
I wrote a piece of music. It was for a group of people, all of whom were very talented and lovely affable people. The end product and final performance was so great, and the short journey to that working up that performance was tightly compacted. I am grateful for their musicianship, but I learned a few a things along the way that I will be more aware of moving forward.
When composing music, music that others will take into their own hands and bring to life with their own feelings and opinions and styles and interpretations, I must make sure I leave as little room as possible for confusion.
In this particular piece, I did not succeed so much at that aspect. I made many clerically-awkward mistakes, and some of my musical choices were not as conducive to the instruments as I thought they might be. These mistakes/choices were blatantly odd as soon as the musicians started working through them, and I was flicking myself on the forehead.
But that’s okay: as composers and creators of music, we’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to write things that will need to be tweaked or changed. THAT part is not new to me. That will always happen. The musicians will often have suggestions or changes that do not sacrifice the integrity of the piece, and usually make it better, and easier.
The aspect of having made these musical mistakes/choices that has bothered me, is that they seemed to plant a seed for communal annoyance & frustration.
Because of the lack of clarity in my poor usage of my musical-bag-of-tools, I set the musicians up for a situation that would leave them with multiple questions. Too many questions, for my liking.
Learning new music in a short amount of time may bring it’s own stressors, but when one learns new music also with poor musical clarity, more stressors add up. The stressors then can turn into a less-than-pleasant musical gathering.
It’s this: that I poorly used my musical tools, I seemed to have mis-represented myself, and made my musical message harder to see clearly. In turn, the musicians had many frustrations, and at times, the few I witnessed, they almost seemed annoyed with each other, or impatient with each other.
Of course, this is conjecture. But I could not help but think that I was responsible for a communal sense of anger & frustration. I did the thing I love: composed music that I thought would bring people together. It did bring them together eventually, I think, but it seemed a bit forced, and required. I put my personality and heart into music that created tension amongst a group of people. That is the opposite of what I want to do at ANY point.
A good friend, talented and intelligent, later reassured me that I mustn’t think that, and that I was false for thinking that. My friend pointed out that there are tons of other factors to consider as causes for the group of musicians’ assumed annoyance with each other.
They all have lives outside of my piece of music. They all have other goals and tasks to accomplish. They all have opinions and different backgrounds that lead them to be who they are. My friend said that my one piece of music cannot be the source of the crumbling sense of communal musical communication. My friend was very comforting with their points.
However, I cannot help but still feel a bit of guilt in not making my music more clear and accurate the first time around. Had I done that, I feel like the musicians may have had an easier time working through the piece, and thus had a more enjoyable, conversational & communal time with each other.
Of course, as I initially stated, the music sounded lovely, and they brought it to life, and for that I am very thankful.
Whether or not I am completely wrong in my guilty feelings, it will serve as bold pillar to refer to in the future as I continue to compose my music and feelings for others to bring to life. I will make sure it is all as clear and non-question-producing as possible, so that the musicians will have more time to enjoy putting themselves into it, and each other’s company.