Our Composer of Art has been struggling to bring a new work to the light of day. Her concept is to apply 12-tone compositional technique to a short audio piece describing an abstract painting. The painting is full of wonderful bright colors – oranges, purples, bright blues, yellows. The thought is that 4 tracks in the audio work would roughly represent these four principal colors in the visual piece – and just as these colors flow from area to area in the abstract, so the corresponding audio elements would shift up and down in octaves and left and right in the sonic field.
Ah yes – easier said than done, and perhaps more bitten off than chewable. Nevertheless – she has toiled and achieved some success.
In the early stages of a project it is common to hit a roadblock in production at a point when technique and/or technical knowledge is not sufficient to express the artistic concept. It is at this point in the creative cycle that we need to take time out to learn something new – or to relearn and perhaps learn more fully, something old.
Our Composer of Music for Art needed to relearn the details of interface between her external keyboard synthesizer and her laptop-based digital audio workstation. The variety of sounds available to her from the external synth would facilitate the level of differentiation necessary to get at the effort to represent principal colors in the painting with discreet audio elements.
Of course the initial reaction, not atypical, to this point of roadblock, is some frustration and some temptation to find any sort of a shortcut or end-run around the need to do some new learning and review of techniques and technology forgotten. Anything to move ahead in our project.
But after a few deep breaths and a good night’s sleep, our dear Composer recognizes how wonderful it would be to truly bring the rich sounds available to her from the keyboard into her composition – something she has not had the ability to do in a satisfactory way – up until now. Because her current work is so driven by sound choices, the moment is ripe and cries out for a commitment to the learning necessary to engage her external synth more effectively in her composition.
Slowly, and with some trepidation, she opens up the old manuals once again. She reviews the basic concepts once again. Goes through the usual diagnostics. “Oh this is so far from creative work” – her Dissenting Voice pleads. But she counters – “No, you are wrong, my dissenting soul. This work is the foundation of artistic growth. If I don’t continue to learn, I will simply write the same music over and over again. And if the Creator has made me a partner in His productive work, then surely He has given me the capacity to learn what I need to learn to continue doing my share – realizing my gift. It is my pleasure and obligation to look at this technical detail, to go through these essential, logical steps which will lead to my solution – and back to a rich pallet of available creative choices for my work.”
And sure enough, the cobwebs blow away, the old learning comes back, and unanswered questions are ready for patient examination, and new levels are reached. The sounds are coming in to the digital workstation beautifully, fully.
In the end, the learning and relearning took no more than an evening and a morning. And our Composer of Music for Art is well on her way to giving birth to something beautiful and new.
Be sensitive to this common moment in the early phases of a new project, where learning is required. Anticipate, even look forward to that moment when we have to pause, crack the manual, do some sketching or analyze and practice some physical technique a bit, to grow up to the demands of our current work.
Be joyful in these moments of learning, because these are the moments of growth which enable you to continue creating the new, which enable your next creative conception.
And move on now in the creative choices and the patient execution which will bring another powerful work to completion.