A Composer's Journal Entries August 14 - September 4, 2007 by Laurie Conrad.
Tuesday, August 14
Today it is well over ninety degrees outside. I have been working ten to twelve hours a day, cutting and pasting individual parts from Xeroxes of the main scores of the Songs and Images. The scores are just too long, there would be too many impossible page turns for the musicians without individual parts. The Images are scored for Harp, flute, violin and viola, which is five lines of score. The Songs are scored for flute, clarinet, 2 violas, cello, two voices and harp - which is eight lines of score. If a piece is short I generally give the musicians the full score, so they can see the other lines, know what the other players’ parts are - especially if there are not enough rehearsals before a concert or before a recording. Most musicians prefer the full score, others prefer individual parts. But in this case there is no choice.
In the Songs, eight lines of score means only a few measures per page - and some of the Songs are more than thirty pages of score - which means fifteen page turns, many which are impossible, i.e. there are no rests before or after the page turns. Instrumentalists do not have a free hand while they are playing ... Myra will have a page turner, and the singers will have their hands free - but the other musicians are on their own.
I gave each musician at least one other player’s part as well as their own. That should help prevent the musicians from getting lost ...
Friday, August 17
Windgarth 9 p.m.
M., Carl and I drove to the lake after M.’s workday was done. A terrible rainstorm began as we had dinner at the little diner, at Happy Landing, down the road from Windgarth. It was a cheery place to be, with the chatter of happy voices and the clatter of silverware & plates as it poured in almost dangerous torrents outside. We were crammed in a small corner of the diner, near a small plaster bust of Elvis Presley. Most of the town was there. At one point, a very tall, thin man stood up and said that the storm would end at 7:30 - & to everyone’s surprise, it did.
Afterwards, a double rainbow, the most beautiful I have ever seen - brilliant bands of colour, the entire spectrum, & two full arcs touching the earth. We drove under them on the entire ride back to Windgarth. Then we stood on our dock, still gazing at the bright bands of colours, the legs of the rainbows still visible to the north & south. As the rainbows began to fade, the sky to the south darkened; to our east turned pink as bands of brilliant white light streamed overhead, towards us - like an old painting by the Masters - with pinks & purples reflected on the lake. Huge, flat white clouds with dark grey outlines slowly traveled north to south, & then wisps of white clouds moving very quickly below them formed a new dimension in the sky. Behind us more clouds slowly moving west to meet the rest of the sky ...
Afterwards, we walked to the Point; I was wrapped in a blanket because the temperature had dropped many degrees after the storm & my warm clothes were back in Ithaca. On the way back to Windgarth many skies & one lone star.
Saturday, August 18
Windgarth 8:30 a.m.
I am sitting at the edge of the dock at Windgarth, wrapped in a blanket; the sun is warm but the air chilly. Finally seeing a bit of sun. It is the first time I have sat in the sun all summer. Still in the low sixties - later in the day it will be in the mid to high eighties. A bit of wind; quick snatches of radiant light floating on the water, making complicated yet simple patterns. Small distant waves happily chasing each other.
Carl is still asleep. M. is out on a swim, a mile along the shore. When we go back to town I will continue working on the scores. Diana sent photographs for the book, but not all of them; I must double-check the captions.
Saturday, September 4
Sketched out some measures, motives for the new harp solo for Myra Kovary. Last Thursday Myra & I Xeroxed the individual parts for Images and the Songs - it took us almost two hours, with each of us working steadily on two separate machines. Then we did a few other errands and had a bit of dinner.
I now have a carton full of Xeroxes, scores & parts for the musicians, sitting in my living room. The cats use it as an observation tower or cot.
Myra will practice her scores at Provincetown this week; she is there for ten days, with Kate (Millett). I will hopefully be able to arrange rehearsals for October or November. We will begin with Images; Myra will play harp & Laura will play the flute part. Which leaves only a violin and viola. The Songs will be much more difficult in terms of finding musicians. I now regret I scored them for two violas. Violists are far more scarce than violinists, even in Ithaca.
Being a composer is an easier task than being an interpreter in so many ways: save the need to organize and find and pay other musicians.