It was twelve months ago that the idea of producing a regular blog came to mind to assist with my writing. At the start of this process I did not feel confident with structuring ideas into coherent articles and each week I would spend hours agonising over words, content and context. I still spend hours considering these elements but 53 posts later the typing has become easier.
In November 2012 the idea for Deranged Drums on Digital Vistas was just that, an idea, and to start with it was safe, traditional or based on tried and trusted methods of composition that I was comfortable with and would feature the drum kit. Now it is 50% complete and has evolved into a work that still has the drums as the main instrument but the way it is performed has become more interesting. Included in the directions are opportunities for audience or ensemble participation in the order in which it is performed, the duration of the work can be decided beforehand or left to the discretion of the performers or conductor and it is possible that no performances will ever sound the same.
As the composer I am happy with these concepts and I will be delighted if there are many versions of the work. I hope each will have it’s own distinctive qualities and if the performers and audience are enthusiastic about the music then the composing will have been worthwhile even though it has taken much longer to reach this stage than in any previous work. The part-time PhD has allowed me, for the first time, the chance to compose for myself. The long timeframe, five years, allows for the exploration of possibilities that is not practical in the more commercial/deadline directed compositions that previously I have undertaken.
The final composition is now taking shape and my enthusiasm for completing the music has greatly increased during the past few weeks. I am now introducing performers to the concept of the work with a view to recordings and a possible first performance in the Spring of next year. The practicalities of making the music freely available on the web for anyone to create their version is also taking shape and I hope this can be achieved by next Summer.
Time is also flying for the undergraduates at the Campus, already over a month gone and many are realising the potential of the courses they are studying. Harry Slater in the Guardian last month was reporting on an alumni survey that confirmed how music students have most of the employability skills that employers look for, employment that is not necessarily in the creative industries. http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/oct/11/music-students-employability
This cohort of final year students will complete their studies before I complete my thesis and will have the skills that employers are asking for therefore may be earning a living by this time next year. A sobering and worrying thought for some of them but fulfilling for the staff at the Campus, long may it continue.