endings are malleable

Sometime a week ago, there were three parts of Moon of Eris that still needed work – the last development of the B section, how that B section lead to the A’ prime section, and the very ending (I had already written the A’ section a month or so ago because i knew that the B section was going to head there, it was just a matter of how to get there.)

I started playing through the B section i had already written in Finale and then in my head to try to monitor the pacing of it and figure out how to get out of it, and then sometime a half hour later when i was taking a break (i might have been at the grocery), the ending sixteen measures of the piece instantly appeared in my head.

Occasionally that happens, where the right thing for the piece just pops in my head out of nowhere, as if to say, “duh, mendel.  what else could it be?”

When i got home I wrote down a description of what happened in text, confident that i’d remember what it sounded like, and writing the words was incredibly gratifying.  The ending of this piece is something i had been struggling with – the A’ material was strong, but wasn’t leading anywhere yet, and i didn’t know where i wanted to take it.  To have a definite idea of how i was going to get there felt like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel – all i needed to do was fill in the details and the piece that i had struggled so much with and fell so behind on was finally going to hit that hump of completion.

Between craziness at work and catching up on some much needed socializing, i ended up shelving the piece for a few days.  When i came back to it, i was revisiting the B to A’ transition, struggling because the method i was currently exploring felt stale – the way it was leading was a gradually increasing density of parts that would abruptly turn into unison hits – i initially started that way to give it a unifying element since it was a variant of how the A section led to the B section, but since i also used that technique multiple times in the B section itself, to do it a fourth or fifth time in the piece and end it the same way started to feel less like a unifying element and more like a tired overbearing repetition.

Tonight i started to go a different direction with the material leading to the recap, something that sparked in my head a few days ago.  The new direction feels right for the piece – but it bridges the transition to the A’ material so differently that that A’ section i wrote about a month ago might get thrown out, which means that those perfect sixteen measures which are pretty still well etched into my memory might not actually make it into the piece – sure it’ll end in a similar way, but it won’t be the same.

But ultimately that’s what composition and art is about – malleability and the exploration of multiple possible scenarios that lead to their own individual outcomes.  The strength of the material the way i have it written right now is enough that i don’t want to stray from it, and the fact that it’s completely changing the ending material is disappointing in some ways but is ultimately a better choice for the piece.  Even seemingly perfect endings can change drastically enough that a different ending that wasn’t even on the radar pops up out of nowhere, and that new ending becomes the perfect ending in a way that the previous one could no longer ever be.

Life is kind of like that too, i think.

For those interested, here’s the tail end of the development of the B section.  I’m plunging ahead with how it’s written with a clear level of acceptance that it might have to change because it’s not really playable.  We’ll see.

moesnap

Mendel Lee

I'm a composer, musician, and music educator residing in New Orleans, LA.

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