Life According to Piano

Composing

Recently Keith performed Verbs, Book 1 (which I’m sure you remember I wrote for him) here. We had a lovely audience, more than 40 folks crammed into my studio and living room. Afterward, over cookies and punch, I was asked how I compose.


Where do I get my ideas?

Is is spontaneous, improvisatory?

Do I sketch out ideas?

How do I know when a piece is done?

Do I have a process?


Answers:

I don’t know.

Yes.

Yes.

I wish I knew. Usually I keep going until it “sounds right”.

Yes: keep going.


I usually have a sense of what I’m trying to bring into being. Some sounds, or an idea, or a mood, or less often just a decision that I want to write something in 3/4, or in Eb major.

I most often will play piano at least some to get going. If it’s a piece for me, very often the entire piece is created by trying out sounds on the instrument. I’ll write down parts that seem either likely to be forgotten (some significant sparkly detail, or some unusual series of harmonies) or too hard to remember until well-practiced.

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