After the Musical Score is Finished: A Composer’s Journal

June 28th, 2013

Wednesday, November 21

4:00 a.m.

Finished copying VII into the main score. It is done, and the completed score is one hundred and thirty-six pages long. Checked that each piece in the cycle had a title and a copy of the poem either at the beginning or the end; next must put dynamics, metronome markings, and pedal markings for the piano into the main score. That will take a few days of hard work. Flipped through the score and the piano part is almost frighteningly difficult in some passages, many passages – this piano score will be challenging to play, and I am looking forward to learning it. After the score is finished and Xeroxed, we can begin rehearsals. First I must write William, we still need a violist and a cellist. It has only just begun…

I am too tired to celebrate, even inwardly – will save that for tomorrow.

Sunday, November 25

Finished putting the pedal markings for the piano into the main score. Tomorrow I will begin writing in the metronome markings.

Monday, November 26

Midnight

Started the metronome markings last night and worked all day until now finishing them. I always find putting in metronome markings a daunting task, and I am afraid I did a terrible job, I just do not have the patience. Much of my music is free and fluid – which does not easily manifest metronome markings. In addition, musical notation is at best very approximate. I can only hope that future musicians will listen to the CDs we have made of my music, which is the main reason I have made CDs whenever possible. Basically we musicians are dealing with the intangibles of time and space…

Called Allison and she has ordered reams of legal-sized paper, enough for fifteen copies of the 136 page score. Also some manilla folders and envelopes. The manilla folders will be for the musicians, the envelopes for me to mail scores out. Xeroxing and taping the scores together will take many hours of intense and tedious work.

Wednesday, November 28

A bit of snow, the moon a bright disc. The air clear, vibrant, the perfect night for a walk. Practiced several pieces in the Unsong Songs cycle last night and today: some piano passages are almost impossible to read off the page, I will have to practice them. Especially Winter Wind and the sections of balancing the Earth in XVII. A wonderful piece to work on for the pianist … Now I want to write more piano pieces, perform and record them. I am already seeing and hearing pages of score. If only the notes would magically appear on the page, without my help….

Thursday, November 29

Went to M’s office and Xeroxed the score all afternoon, made fifteen collated copies. Five copies for the musicians, five extras for the future – and the rest to send out all over the world. I am only half done, will have to go back tomorrow and finish Xeroxing the last 70 pages. If I were a composer of the past, I would be copying out the score and parts many hours each day for weeks, using a scratchy quill pen with messy ink, with no whiteout at my side, by candlelight or gaslight. When God asked me, when I wished to incarnate; I answered: “Please dear Lord, after Xerox machines are invented. The rest I leave up to you.”

Friday, November 30

It took me almost two hours, and more than an entire roll of scotch magic tape, the sort that comes in its own box, to tape my copy of the score together. I think I still have some score/parts covers in the piano studio, will have to check later today. I had them made up years ago, legal sized, cut from sheets of matting paper in several shades of tan or blue. It is snowing today, small little flakes everywhere in the wind. Will walk into town and finish Xeroxing the last 70 pages of the score at M.’s office. Then I can tape the scores together and give them to the musicians.

Finished the Xeroxing and taped the violin score together – which again took almost two hours. I first had to figure out how to tape each piece so that the violinist could turn the pages without a page turner. This phase of the work seems endless, and there are still three more scores to tape together. The life of the composer.

Monday, December 3

Finished taping all the scores, altogether ten or so hours of work; William came by and picked up the scores for the strings. He found us a fine cellist – only a violist needs to be found. Except for changes to the score, correcting mistakes I made copying from my sketches, and possibly adding or subtracting notes or lines – as a composer I am done. What remains is learning the piano part and rehearsing the musicians for concerts and a recording. Next I think I will write a trilogy of piano pieces, for piano solo. Now that the inner door is open, I am flooded with sounds and ideas for new pieces. After the recording of Songs of the Earth has been made and released, I will send the corrected scores out, with CDs of our performance to various musicians and groups all over the world. And then in the privacy and silence of my own living room I will write more music…

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.