the struggle for focus

You know, it sometimes feels like life goes out of its way to conspire against me in my most pertinent endeavors. As I sit here listening ot Arvo Párt’s Fratres, its easier to reflect with less madness on it all. I came across a great and personable blog article on him by Irish Novelist Adrian McKinty which is worth a 30second read if you have a moment.

My laptop has refused to behave itself, my new ProTools software has behaved even worse, and my internet dongle has completely vanished. For a period today, my headphone output had even left the building!

I had borrowed my sisters Zoom recorder to put beside me as I worked out ideas on the piano, to catch any good stuff I forgot…. and you guessed it, it wasn’t recording for the first two attempts I made to do it – you would think pressing record wasn’t to difficult right?!

Anyway, the concerto. Aside from writing, I’ve been reading a few great sources of information on the challenge I’m undertaking so as to inform myself as best I can along the journey. One great book I’m enjoying is called “CONTEMPORARY MUSIC: An Introduction” by Francis Routh. It’s a fascinating take, written in 1968, on contemporary music. So far I’ve been reading about the importance of contemporary music on the people of the different periods and Routh is making a case for the various aspects of culture that


Cover of Plato

can be captured in the music if the composer so chooses. There is a great quote in there from the philosopher Plato that conveys his strong convictions of the importance of contemporary music in any lasting culture.

Plato felt that music should form an integral part in the education of the “Guardians” of his ideal city:

The decisive importance of education in poetry and music: rhythm and harmony sink deep into the recesses of the soul and take the strongest hold there, bringing that grace of body and mind which is only to be found in one who is brought up in the right way. Moreover, a proper training in this kind makes a man quick to perceive any defect or ugliness in art or in nature. Such deformity will rightly disgust him. Approving all that is lovely, he will welcome it home with joy into his soul and nourished thereby grow into a man of a noble spirit.

I think that is an amazing insight. Think about it. Using music and poetry to educate people to the point that they can now critically analyze in life like they can in art. This would increase the awareness of people, and their capacity to read between the lines in situations and not become followers of momental fads or outrageous philosophies and movements that hurt them or others in any way. Its Platos idea of utopia and its an amazing insight into the power of music.

To capture the attention of a modern society though, music needs to be music of the now, and familiar enough to its audience to lure them in. Modern contemporary composers are often at odds with the general masses, and it could be said that only a few truly cross over. I guess both modern education and modern composers are both to blame for this widening gap. Wouldn’t it be nice to put something together that actually helped lure some listeners back into the world of contemporary music?

I’ve also pulled out a book, which is so old its missing its front cover and is barely holding its binding! Its called “Form in Instrumental Music” and is one of the coolest books on form I’ve ever come across, and I had to stumble on it in a box of books while putting stuff up in the attic at home! I think its from 1930.

It couldn’t have come at a better time in my writing and is helping broaden my philosophies and education on form. You can never know enough about form I say!

Anyway, ’twas a good day of writing. Clarity comes by to visit and is more present daily. One of these days, she’ll present herself, and I’ll welcome her with open arms….

I’m hoping to find Cora before I leave for America. It would be nice to hear some of the ideas on her violin, with her intensity and passon before I have to depart. So will begin, an intense period of studio mock ups and couch surfing until I return in late April….

Ok… off to bed me thinks…

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