Sage advice for every situation

My deck of the original Oblique Strategies arrived in the post today! :)

I’m so pleased to finally have them for real in my sticky little mitts and not just via an online applet, I’ve been thumbing through each card in turn, grinning to myself and imagining the crazy situations I could apply the directions to. Let’s draw one right now... it simply says “water”. Yes.

I attended the LCO New “Inspired by Architecture” study day on Monday in London. We assembled on the 9th floor of City Hall, listening to talks from the likes of Diana Burrel, Simon Bainbridge, Richard Scott, Cany Ash, David Gordon, framed by a spectacular view of Tower Bridge, Thames and the City beyond. Then we hopped on a bus and had a look at some modern functional architecture in the East End/Hackney. The idea is to compose a piece for orchestral ensemble inspired by the buildings we saw, the best few to be performed, recorded and published by the LCO early next year.

I love these sorts of things - the light a fire under you to get writing, but without the stress that comes with a real commission. And you get to meet other young composers, get a feel for what they’re trying to say. The issue I have with this work is one of ‘obviousness’... i.e., architecture and music share many concepts and vocabulary (line, form, structure, texture, repetition/pattern, juxtaposition, brightness/darkness/lightness, space/ambience, perspective/depth... the list goes on! The challenge will be to have the music refer to the buildings in an unobvious way, to avoid the whole “that line is this line, that colour is this colour” correlation that always turns out so trite and contrived. The music should maybe latch on to one detail and lose sight of the whole, or tap into the sense of movement and atmosphere, or the air that is divided and trapped within a structure. Or not... we’ll see how it turns out.

I have had some great responses to my wanted ad, and as a result some exciting commissions and collaborations in the pipeline! It’s been a while since I’ve written new music for individual players to perform, and feels strange after doing so much media stuff - the creative freedom is such a welcome change and takes a little getting used to. All this thinking of new work has given me the mojo to finish up my String Quartet for Ariella (finally). Progress!