The Time Trap


During my career as a composer and arranger there has rarely been adequate time to complete a work with the certainty it was ideal.  Deadlines and other commitments have meant that many works were completed on intuition (or collated experiences) and within strict periods (probably adrenaline as well).  Having the luxury of much longer deadlines (I am working at the doctorate part-time over five years) is beneficial for the research into other composer’s concepts, methods, techniques and processes but I am aware of a negative influence on my inspiration.  When I have imposed deadlines for myself, or have been compelled to complete a composition when all the ideas were formulated in my mind, the impetus to accomplish a final version has taken over.  Without a rehearsal date, first performance or production deadline, the consuming passion that writing a composition can induce seems to have disappeared.

With “Deranged Drums on Digital Vistas” I find myself in a hiatus, I have an idea for a composition, some inspiration for musical material to be included, but too many variable options and flexible processes to consider with no vision of a sound that will encourage and excite the creative process.  Most of my composition career has been dictated by deadlines, briefs and commissions, the freedom of working within a longer time scale has revealed some unhelpful consequences.  The instincts that I use to compose are being challenged by continual consideration and revision.  The number of choices I can make during a composition are often dependent on the time allowed to complete the work.  With more time, the chances that are taken with a composition, as a broadening of experience and creativity, can now be plotted, measured and selected rather than occurring spontaneously during the compositional process, to be part of the continual development of a composer’s individual musical signature. 

I very rarely revise a work once it is in the public domain. Each composition is a snapshot of my ideas at a specific time, often with many non-musical influences such as the environment I am in at the time, relationships with family and friends and of course my own state of mind.  On completing a new work I will consider it’s qualities and those that I find interesting will be deposited in my internal composition bank, versions of them will reappear in future work.  Parts of the work that I am not convinced by will also be banked, but in the outgoings column, never to be used again.  This refining by practice of my musical identity is evident, and can be defined into periods, one of which was considered in the previous post.  When I was searching for the examples to put on SoundCloud to show the work from the period, I came across a far more recent work “Cold Earth”, which shows some of the ideas from my mind bank had returned twenty years later but combined with ideas from other periods of composition experience.

Christmas will be here soon, with all the changes that it brings in environments and relationships, perhaps this will be the catalyst to move the composition forward and release me from the time trap.


About derangeddrums

Composer, percussionist, musical director, teacher and educator. My music has been written for audiences in palaces and in the street. Music is my vocation and my passion and I hope you enjoy it too.
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