Saturday, March 02, 2013

Writing, Being, Playing, and Sharing

I find great comfort in reading Lewis Hyde's Common As Air, a book that discusses the history of the sharing of ideas, particularly in the America of the founding fathers. The world he celebrates is the world that I prefer to inhabit, which is why I like to make the music that I write available to anyone to play whenever and wherever they like.

I don't know if other composers feel this way, but after I have written a piece of music, and after whatever emotional and intellectual events that were going on at the time have faded into really distant memory, I no longer feel like I have any real "right" concerning how it should be played. Actually, when I write a piece for somebody else to play, I absolve myself completely of any interpretive authority beyond what is written into the music itself. When I play a piece written by another composer (whether s/he is dead or alive), I take the same kinds of liberties. I could call that an act of "common practice," I suppose.

It has taken me a long time to be able to interpret music that I have written. I used to get caught up in the way I wished that a piece could sound if it were played by someone who could really play well, and I would get kind of stuck between that ideal and what I was capable of producing from my instrument. Now that I have come to the point in my string-playing life when I like the sound that I make on the viola, like the face I see in the mirror, and find my voice (speaking, prose, and musical) familiar and acceptable, I feel like I can get closer to the way I want the music I play (including the music I write) to go. I also have come to accept that sharing what I do is a good thing, and not a burdon that I pass onto other people.

So, with that in mind, I invite you to listen to two short pieces I wrote in 2008 and played in public for the first time last night. I wrote them for Asli Gültekin Özek, a favorite stand partner of mine, and she played the first performance. I learned a great deal from hearing her play these pieces in 2008, and I learned only recently that I am capable of doing a decent job as well.

If the above link doesn't work yet, you can listen here.

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