"While music exists in time, inspiration is usually just a lightning flash, and a flash of lightning does not a concert make. Music has to occupy the time slot needed to express the idea. In a way, a composer is stretching out a ball of chewing gum into a long string of gum. It is a technical and, in the literal sense, an artificial process because the composer must use both artifice and skill. The "stretching" is the real hard slog of my composing. As for getting the idea in the first place--well, nobody really knows where ideas come from. I can have bad days when nothing usable comes and good says when quite a bit of material may come my way. After that brief inspiration, the rest is all manipulation and technique. However, during the process of manipulation musical ideas, new ideas, do seem to come along. Stravinsky may have put it best; when asked, 'When do your ideas come to you?' he replied, 'When I am working.' I think that sums it up."
from Composers on Composing for Choir, edited by Tom Wine
Tags: Composing, John Rutter, Inspiration, Ideas