Over the last several days, I have taken a little time here and there to sketch out a plan for a new piece. I find that the music I write makes more sense if I know where I am going with it. Deciding on a overarching form, and creating a "schematic" of how the instruments will interact with each other, provides some general boundaries for a composition. It is rather like looking at a map and planning a route to get from the first sound to the last, even before I know what those sounds are exactly.
Today was the first day I actually put notes on a page, using my preparatory work as a loose guide. I like what I wrote, and I have some great ideas for where it can go. But it is obvious to me at this point that some of my initial thoughts about the piece will be discarded. The route I had mapped out didn't take into consideration that a bridge was out. Or that there is a particularly beautiful stretch of road I would be missing.
Some of the music I wrote while I was in school took on a pedantic feel when I was unwilling to give up a carefully planned concept for the sake of aesthetics. I don't enjoy listening to music that is more intellectual than it is expressive, but that is exactly what I wound up creating when I was inflexible about my plans for a piece. I am proudest of my works that are engaging, even when this meant sacrificing a bit of the intellectual design to give the musical ideas their own space. I want to write more music like that.
And I want to be living like that as well. Dancing with what happens and still keeping a general sense of what I want to be about. I may wind up creating something unexpected, and it may be different that what I originally conceptualized. But the alternative is to work against what life brings me, and "lifeless" isn't an adjective I want applied to anything I create.