Many of you have already heard the first movement to The Arrogance of Time, performed wonderfully by Ethan Valentin. But did you know it was originally conceived as a three movement sonata? I had a 2nd and 3rd movement outlined, but the first movement ended up being so big, it worked best as a stand alone piece.
But then I looked back at my sketches, and decided to make a second version, with all three movements. I will have to shorten the first movement, and rewrite the ending, but don’t worry, the one movement version will still be here. (Don’t ask how I plan to differentiate the two via titles, I haven’t worked that out yet).
I decided then, that this would be a good opportunity to show you how I do my work, and bring you along my as I write, edit, and finalize the second movement. Currently I have a mostly-completed first draft, written out by hand. I always do sketches and first drafts this way, since it helps to be on a piano when writing for piano, it’s a lot easier to focus, you’re writing slower so you’re more attentive to what you write, and it just feels more natural to me.
So let me talk to you about the beginning.
One thing that is very common in my music is the use of Baroque themes and finding unique ways to play with them in my music. This is the opening theme of the 2nd movement of my piano sonata, but it’s hardly original. For baroque listeners, one would probably expect a set of variations to follow, perhaps even improvised, as that was a common practice for musicians back in the early 1700’s. It looks bland now, but there’s some exciting variations up ahead.
This is still the first draft, so there’s still a lot missing. For first drafts I usually try to just get as much on paper as I possibly can. This is usually the hardest part for me, since I’m very easily distracted and get pretty excited when first thinking about music. Not only that, but I have to write my ideas down without and judgement, because as soon as I question whether or not what I’m writing down is actually good, I become paralyzed by that thought, and end up barely writing anything at all. Everytime I write a first draft, I think of Hemingway’s famous quote (which has frankly been more meaningful to me than his books) “The first draft of anything is sh*t.”
So I will show you the sh*t I wrote as I copy this first draft into Sibelius, but eventually I will also walk you through my editing process, before I finish the final draft.
Join me next time where I take this theme from the style of Bach, to something closer to Ligeti.