What sense does it make to write yet another piece of music today? This is a fundamental question that, for now, I can only address from my personal creative agenda. Composing just for the sake of ‘being a composer’ won’t do; I want to develop musical ideas that are meaningful. In a world swamped by an overload of stimuli from the mass media, I want to explore new modes of sensibility. Such goals demand extensive reflection beyond the mere act of writing music, and therefore a lot of time – much more than what I’ve had allocated for recent projects. Having found interesting challenges and considerable creative satisfaction in them so far, the model of 10-minute pieces for standard ensemble to be written in a couple of months is something I don’t find particularly stimulating at this point.
When funding is not exactly flowing, if I am going to spend a substantial amount of time and energy doing poorly paid creative work (if paid at all!), I want such work to be significant to me, and to all others involved in it. This requires a different kind of engagement from the participant actors of the creative process. There lies, in my perspective, the real struggle of making art music today: to find the time and concentration to make something creatively significant despite the pressures of everyday life in a global capitalist regime.
As a first step, it’s fundamental to identify people who might be receptive to the ideas I’d like to explore; people with ideas of their own that can be also stimulating for me. I want to meet up with performer friends, have coffee or drinks together (or exchange long emails when geographical distance is a barrier) and talk about music, but also about philosophy, literature, cinema, politics, sounds, colours, light, aromas… I want to get involved on a human level in the process of making music. This doesn’t mean we have to found a hippy community together, but simply to establish a true dialogue that allows us to share and understand the kind of sensibilities to be explored in an artistic project. I want that creative empathy to be the point of departure for collaboration. That’s infinitely more significant than the typical exchange in which a performer shows the composer cool tricks on their instrument so the composer can put them in a piece.
Performer friends, I want to hear from you. I want to know what you dream about. I want to know what your aesthetic/conceptual/spiritual/political convictions and doubts are. We may or may not find common points of view. We may or may not end up working together in a new project. But the point of departure should be that dialogue. I miss that personal convergence, that sense of complicity with performers from my student years, which the ‘professionalisation’ of music-making has made somehow scarce.