Clearing a Forest of Thoughts

Its funny, I had a haircut and grew a beard before coming to Annaghmakerrig and it has led to many interesting conversations comparing the new and old me. I think the change certainly played its part in the energy of the moment – Moving On!


25 Seasons of Annaghmakerrig

 Inspired by a beauty, trapped for eternity in the rings of time….

My thoughts are like trees in a forest, swaying by the breaths of a restless ego, blocking me from living, crushing my soul and blurring her true purpose.

I long for a distant Bell, that can calm the roaring winds, distract me from this chaos, and bathing me in the sanctuary of its eternal song.


A New Philosophy

TG Composer Roomsm

Composers Room

Move On‘ – In so many ways, this residency has done a great job at driving home this philosophy. Move on with the violin concerto, move on towards performances of the concerto, move on with the film score suite, move on emotionally, move on with composing and creativity, move on with my expectations of myself, move on with my ideas and move on with life……

Unlike last time, I didn’t get to play anyone my work at Annaghmakerrig. It never came up in conversation, so it seemed like it wasn’t something that was worth pushing. Instead, I shared Etude in Film Score CD’s with anyone who wanted one. In the end of the day, many will be lost, mislaid and possibly even thrown out. But for now, they will hopefully cause some mental and emotional stimulation for those that will listen. If anyone is somewhat inspired or seeks out my other music its a bonus!

Annaghmakerrig  Analysis of the Concerto

I fully analyzed the concerto. On a macro level, I examined all the issues I felt existed in the movements. I have definite alterations in mind for the melody that I know I will make, but that will be a process of doing several creative passes of the mockup and modifying the solo part in real time to capture the modifications that are already in my head – it will be moving the music towards its final melodic destination.

TG Clarinet ReedssmI used my clarinet on the residency and it was actually really nice to play from the concerto score. I actually recorded some of the more prominent clarinet parts into the mockups to try and bring a little more life to the music and improve the accuracy of the representations. Its amazing how much my intonation has weakened without regular playing! I thought it would be primarily my stamina. It was a good wake-up call to start some serious practice again, which is a good thing….

Back to the analysis: For now, I’m specifically trying to move the music to a place where I can make those final micro-alterations to the melody. I think I finally have the critical notes to do that. Some of the things I’m planning on modifying include:

  • introducing some phrases a few bars earlier or later
  • adding some light orchestration in certain stops to fix some ‘joins’ as I call them
  • extending some sustained chord holds
  • optimize some woodwind/brass ‘voicings’ to strengthen my intended texture in places
  • removing strings entirely from one episode or maybe switching to pizzicato
  • drifting further away (in the orchestral reflection) from the subject during one episode
  • introduce some late appearing ideas in earlier episodes so that the material breathes more

While writing this blog entry, I’ve also realized that I want to work a little on ensuring that the orchestral contour respectfully follows the emotional peaks and valleys of the music more. I want the orchestral texture to reflect this desire a little more, possibly as a nod to Beethoven’s powerful personal style in his violin concerto. So, I suspect that’s my next week or two of work already planned out then!

 Artistic Inspiration

TG SCore and RecordersmSome of the best times at Annaghmakerrig involve artists sharing their work. All repeat visitors know this, and this time was no different. One night, I was fortunate to watch a short documentary by Hilary Fennell that blew me away. It dealt with deafness and its profound effect on musicians. It really moved me as I reflected on the battle I have with my own senses and warned me how I might feel if I were to experience this. Afterwards, we listened to some poetry (Brendan Cleary, Mary Dorcey), some prose (N. M.Kelby), some tranlation (Mona de Pracontal) and the outline of a film project (Naomi Goodman). Finally, after playing some of his wonderfully fresh compositions, Acrobat singer Mark Healy decided it was a musical night and a bit of song and dance – thank God for my lovely clarinet – it lovingly save me from humiliating myself with some poorly executed dance moves!

This month, I read a lot of the poetry of Mary Dorcey at Annaghmakerrig – 2 books in fact! Its been a great opportunity to step outside my own process and creative hamster wheel to grab some free inspiration from other artists. We’ve been talking a lot about combining poetry and music and examining several of her poems as possible starting points. Our endless conversations have really left me with a lot of food for thought on how I see the world and our place in it as artists and humans.

I’ve also seen some great art and heard wonderful philosophies. This week it was Michael Geddis’s micro-art processes that truly inspired me. His intense dedication to detail reminded me of my own approach to the concerto and it’s as if my own philosophy on the creative process became a little clearer by observing him using his tools and unique methodologies in his art.

The World moves on,
life at Annaghmakerrig moves on,
as do I….




About musicman

- composer specializing in transforming lives via beautiful music and unconventional and ideas....
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