Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Write a Bad Piece of Music

UF Music Building Music Stand Bench Door Brick

After posting on Sunday night I recalled an exercise in writing music that has been useful for me came from a  book by W.A Mathieu. The particular exercise was either in The Listening Book: Discovering Your Own Music or The Musical Life. Both are worth reading so I am not going to take the time to dig through them to find which book contains the exercise. If I find it later I'll post it in a comment. The exercise is - write a bad piece of music. At first this blew my mind. Yet at times I have worked with it and the outcome was that I was active in creating music. This activity allowed some very good music to come into being. Just as a result of giving myself the permission to write a bad piece of music.

Last night I ended my practice reviewing the melody that came out at the beach last week. I had not looked at this since Friday. I wanted to allow this to be in my brain as I slept and perhaps find another connection or magic within the framework of what I had. Sitting at my desk after lunch today I sang through the beginning of the piece in my mind and suddenly saw an option for variation in the beginning. I addressed this first in my practice tonight.

The idea did not work, yet I allowed myself to explore other possibilities. None of them were working and I found myself thinking that perhaps this was a 'bad piece of music.' And perhaps it is. What is important is that I am making contact with music, seeing other possibilities, and trusting what I hear. I may not be playing the piece well and then again maybe it is a 'bad piece ...' What I know for certain is that if I do not work with the material there will be no piece of music. So with the blessings of Mathieu's exercise which has worked for me before - I give myself permission to write a bad piece of music now. YES!

I laugh as I remember sharing this idea with a musician friend who was going to return in one week with a new piece. When we met again he had nothing, but was going to have a piece the following week. When next we met he still had nothing. He was unable to allow himself to create a bad piece of music concerned that this might become something to settle for. However he also had not created a good piece of music. He was just stuck. For me this option of writing a bad piece allows me to remain in motion with the process of creating music. Moving musically forward in some fashion. Enough words; back to the melody.

What music are you creating today?

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