Monday, January 4, 2010

On Writing Music

I write to task. I seldom sit down and write something just because I think I should, although my string quartet would probably fall into this latter category. I write with a specific performance in mind, a particular set of lyrics or idea, a deadline. Because of this I have never experienced what is known as “writer’s block”.

My composition teacher at SUNY Fredonia (NY), Walter Hartley, once said about writing, “If you are a composer, you will pick a note to start on. If you are a really good composer, you will choose a second note and it will be the Right Note.” It took me over 10 years to understand this. What he was saying is that the second note is “right” not only because it leads from the first note, but it also leads to the third note. That’s what makes it so difficult.

When writing a vocal piece, I try to let the words sing for themselves. Words are very lyrical, very melodic, if you know how to listen. This also does not happen overnight.
You can check out some of my music on

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