Last week’s blog was full of positive thought and enthusiasm inspired by Mel Dyke, Joann Fletcher, Steven Buckley and the Barnsley Youth Choir. This week’s phenomenon was the Spring Equinox in the Northern hemisphere. A time for renewal and growth, motivation and optimism, things should start to get better as the sun warms the earth and the rivers swell with the melting snow.
Many cultures celebrate this change in the seasons signalled by warmer days and the shift in the proportion of time between daylight and darkness. The Iranian celebration of hope and rebirth No Ruz, resurrection in the Christian faith and Italian Feast of Cybele and in Russia, the time of the return of light and warmth, the festival of Masienitsa. What actually happened this week was freezing nights and by the end of it, lots of snow and icy winds, not at all conducive for inspiration and creativity.
I noticed from my playing carer that winter was not an obviously creative season, the recording sessions for the Christmas specials were devised and recorded in September and October. November was a quiet month and then the season of festive concerts, Messiahs and pantomimes was a very conservative time for music, either Christmas music, popular songs or television themes featured predominantly in the programmes for these events. It is a commercially important period in business, artistic and retail, and many managers prefer the safety of tradition rather than innovation during this time.
My composition this year started with a rationale and many ideas but recently the number of ideas arriving with me has decreased. Could it be that the process of composition is affected by changes in my environment? Looking at my notebook and comparing the entries with the local weather, I had many ideas when it seemed the weather was starting to warm up but now, with the return of the cold weather, there are very few notes. Even thinking of ideas for the blog is becoming arduous, perhaps I should hibernate until the sun appears or at least emigrate to a warmer country during the winter.
It could be a dose of the Winter Blues, not the CD, tracks or festivals, but the way that the lack of light affects the production of chemicals in the body. It could be that my creativity arrives in bursts and the method I am using to compose the current work has, for the first time, allowed me to identify the way in which my inspiration appears. It could be that I have many other challenges at the moment and my thought processes are concentrating on those rather than music. I could have “writer’s block” or a “creative slowdown” but are these actual conditions or rather ways of explaining indecision and procrastination? Is creativity an illusive notion? What is happening when I compose? Is it the recycling of experience or the organisation of original thought or a mix of the two?
Many questions to try and excuse the inactivity but if it is natural, part of a physical makeup that possibly affects many other people, then we should learn to understand and work with it. Once appreciated then use the information rather than try and fight against it or push a process in an unconvincing direction (this usually ends in having to unravel it later).
Finally an update, it is snowing here now and I have not written anything in my composition notebook for a week. Clearly need the start of Spring to have some effect before the inspiration comes back. If you find this blog tired and less stimulating than some earlier ones, then I blame it all on the weather. It should be much easier to discuss the process during inclement times, but I am even finding writing about music quite difficult let alone create any. Perhaps an extra consideration when taking on projects or commissions is “time of year”, and if the work falls during the Winter season, add a surcharge for travel to and accommodation in a warmer climate. Welcome to Spring, my glockenspiel and string quintet composition, has been uploaded, http://soundcloud.com/music-54-4/ . Just trying to play my part in speeding up the arrival of the change of season.