I found a call for scores recently asking for a piece for solo flute, and although I already have a piece for alto flute, I’d prefer to write a new one. The last one I wrote was early freshman year, but I can do better I’m sure.
I only have a couple of days to do it, but I like a bit of pressure. Considering the lack of time that I have to write this piece, I’m tempted to jump right in and start putting notes on the page. Oops…I already have. But I’m stopping myself right this instant, because I know that I have a tendency to shortcut the writing process. I did take a while–maybe an hour or two–to Google some extended techniques for flute and whatnot. I have been exposed to quite a bit of contemporary flute repertoire including extended techniques, such as Crumb’s Vox Balaene (amongst several of his other works) and Clarke’s Zoom Tube. In writing my last flute piece, I tried to expose myself to quite a bit, so much of this is review or an extension upon some of the techniques I had previously learned of. However, unlike last time, I don’t have a performer to test things out.
Working with a flautist last time helped me to realize that some techniques were simple in theory but unpractical in reality. For example, overblowing a note on alto flute is a bit more difficult than with the C flute in the sense that the notes often jump into the next octave instead of creating a turbulent, windy effect. After learning about microtones on flute and alternate fingerings recently, I am hesitant to use them for fear that they may come out to be impractical too (such as novice/ambiguous fingerings for string harmonics–annoying). I’m sure I can find some fingering charts online, but that will definitely be a crash course in the matter. I find the effect attractive though, so it may be well worth the dare.
One thing I recall from a lesson with Dr. Suter right before I started my latest quartet piece was this:I should take in as much music as possible related to what I plan to do, and then wait to start when I am overflowing with ideas. Good plan. But will two days do trick?
Even if they don’t, my current plan is this:
Today–Absorb knowledge like a sponge. Brainstorm with words, and use simple sketches where necessary.
Tomorrow–Get up super early, write the piece. Get a good start on engraving it.
Tuesday–Get up early, finish engraving it, proofread it. Turn it in.
And I’m gonna have fun doing it all!