Tag Archives: writing

To Write or Not to…

I somehow have acquired the onerous task of Guest blogging on the acclaimed baconworks. How did this come about? Why do you care? You probably don’t but I’ve got the floor, so you may as well read on.

I happened to post a comment on Greg’s recent post entitled Growing a Tune: The Seed, and something in my comment seemed to inspire Mr. Bacon to grant me the opportunity to elocute upon a relatively captive and targeted audience.

Being a fellow tunesmith, I commented that I, too, had a collection of tune snippets floating around in various drawers, folders, book-bindings, shoe-boxes, glove-boxes, hat-boxes, etc., most of which have amounted to nothing more than saving another precious microgram of landfill. All of which begs the question, “Why write tunes at all?” I have actually been challenged on more than one occasion with this very question. After all, aren’t there already tens of thousands of tunes out there already? Most of which have been completely unexplored by such a fledgling instrumentalist as myself, not to mention the countless that are no doubt far better than anything I could come up with. So why write something new? Some might even argue (myself included) that one really can’t write anything truly “new” – there are in reality only a finite (though arguably large) number of ways you can combine notes and rhythms in a pleasing fashion (subjective, of course), and within some realm or genre (Irishy trad sounding, fife and drum-ish, etc.). There are, of course, certain common rhythmic and melodic figures that just “fit” in a certain way in a tune. And I’ve often said, in Zen-like fashion, that there is in reality only ONE tune — we just play different parts of it at different times.

And what kind of audacity is required? How dare I even attempt to place myself among the greats whose immortality has all but been assured by the very act of their creative genius? Unforgettable themes such as the opening strain of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Beethoven’s Fur Elise, John Williams’ Star Wars, and innumerable others stick in humanity’s collective consciousness. Even such melodies whose authors have long since been forgotten, and we attribute them to someone “unknown”, or the enigmatic “traditional”, still infest our brains like that late summer cold that you can’t seem to shake, long after the session or muster has ended. Do I have one of those tunes? Or maybe two?

Do any of us who again dare to write music have these delusions of grandeur? Do I really think that someone else might remember, or even enjoy my tunes enough to play them or listen to them again when I the composer am not around or in earshot? Will they play them for or teach them to others?

So many questions.

But when I write, I don’t ask these questions. I just write. I like to play what I write – sometimes. And, I like to share. That’s why I do what I do: Music for me is about sharing something the way I understand it. I’m not trying to be profound, or brilliant. I’m just trying to share something with other humans. If you get it – good. If you don’t, that’s okay too. And if you get it enough that you want to share it too, even better. I know I like to hear and play what some of my fellow composers have done. Maybe it’s not too much of a stretch that some of them might reciprocate. Just because that’s what we do.