20th century composer Laurie Conrad lives in Ithaca, NY. Some of her honors include: Who's Who in American Music & Marquis' Who's Who in America. Cds of her "Visions for Harp & Flute" & "Early Songs" are now available at www.figarobooks.com
Sunday, December 12
Feeling better today. Went to the piano & read through to the end of Mt. I (of Bobís printed version). Some pages will need to be rewritten, the accompanying lines in the lower strings. My clairvoyance - I was seeing through to Movements II & III. In fact, I even used a theme from Movement III in Mt. I. The theme can stay where it is, as a glimpse into the Dance of Mt. III, but the lower voices must change. At the slow tempo of Mt. I, the accompaniment figures I used in Mt. III will just not work.
There is no time or space in clairvoyance, as we generally experience time & space. Just layers, layers of realities.
Bob e-mailed that the ending of Mt. II seemed out of place. That was another bleedthrough to Mt. III. Another glimpse, and I will leave it as it is. There are no breaks between the movements, another inadvertent experiment in form. The piece just didnít have them & it does have a life of its own ... He figured out how to notate quarter note = 70-76 on his machine, finally (he needs to put a space on either side of the hyphens.) He is trying to type in 100 pages of score each day.
M. wonít be back from N.Y.C. until 11 p.m. tonight, so that leaves me many hours free for composing.
Managed to get the house looking like Christmas while M. was in N.Y.C.. Wrapped all the presents for Carolyn & the children, neighbors & friends, other relatives, & a few boxes of various size for M. carefully placed near the far stereo speaker. Got the wooden wagon down from the attic & piled it up with presents in their newly papered boxes & candy canes & ribbons. The usual plush rabbit in his red velvet vest is on the driverís bench next to a small teddy bear. I connected two long strands of small, clear lights & strung them over the presents & wagon & floor - the reflection off the wood floor is quite magical. From where I sit in the living room, it looks like a meandering path of stars leading into the distance. Ianís presents are up front, near the grand piano - a brightly colored & large farm set, nicely boxed, with a barn that opens & eventually houses the other figures, including a cheerful fellow wearing a straw hat on a green plastic tractor. The barn has a handle, for carrying it around, a portable life & farm, including (plastic) vegetables & some fencing. Next to the farm set is a large metal tin with a picture of a teddy bear on it & a bright red lid. Inside the tin are his other presents, & I think he will be a very happy little boy.
In contrast to this well-ordered & idyllic scene, the piano rack is strewn with sheets of blank, filled & half-filled manuscript paper, thousands of notes on their fragile stems strewn over the sheets of paper as though tossed there from a great height; most are hastily scribbled, some on torn pieces of ms. paper & scotchtaped to Bobís printed score - a maze of corrections & additions to be sorted out later, when all the ideas are in & accounted for. Most of the changes are small, a note here or there. Some are missed flats or sharps or misplaced or omitted ties, or pitches Bob read incorrectly off my original score; some are notes I wrote down incorrectly, or recent changes to the score. But in chamber music, one note held instead of repeated, or placed an octave higher or lower, one change in pitch - can alter the entire geometry & sound. It is more than that, but I cannot find the words to express it. Holiness comes to mind, the sacred ordering of the tones is disturbed.
The more simple the writing, the clearer the ideas & overall form - the more this is true .
So often one agonizes over a quarter note rest or the inversion of a base note or the octave placement endlessly. In the end, every decision has its own life & truth, profundity & being. So one decides, also regretting the paths unchosen, unlived, unexplored. As one small decision in life can alter our entire future, so one note can sometimes determine the rest of the piece.
I think that is one reason why Monet painted his water lilies over & over again. Each painting was truthful & beautiful, but something was left unsaid. If one goes deeply enough, one finds a Truth that can then express itself in many ways & in many directions indefinitely. If one stands in that place, ideas become secondary & something else far more Real & important & ungraspable arises - & it is that ungraspable something that the artist then unfolds into all his work.
This string quintet that I am writing, all the notes in this 64 page score, in a sense could be reduced to two notes - a descending whole step. (Bob would be surprised to hear that, I am sure ... Maybe I should send him this page from my journal.) That one interval is the frame on which all else rests. I see it almost as a mobile, with all the chords & themes & counterpoint & other geometries suspended from that one simple, descending interval.
As I get older, I use many more notes & write many more pages of score - some of my early songs were only two lines long. Yet the overall conception becomes more & more simple, less complicated - & more tonal.
Just checked the back porch, & there was Mt. III, on the shelf next to the flower pot. It was still in the original paper bag it came home in from the Xerox shop. At some point I had written "For BOB SPEAR" with a black calligraphy pen & circled it, with an arrow pointing to his name - & this was superimposed over "for Laurie C." in Bobís handwriting in red ink with another arrow, this time a red one pointing to my name. The overall impression is a bit like my clairvoyance, i.e. the entire history of that bag seen all at once, at a glance. This time Bob did not rewrite my name with another arrow, probably assuming that by now I would recognize the bag - & that I know my own name.
I will begin working on Mt. III later tonight.
Just finished correcting Mt. III. Very few mistakes & no changes on my part - undoubtedly because I had time to read through it before giving it to Bob to print up. Now back to Mt. I.
First a cup of decaf.