I did an odd thing today. I pulled out the fourth movement of the Symphony No. 1 in G and started over on it.
My original plan this morning was to open the old file and do some Things to it to fix it, the first of which was to expand the note values of the lento section to be more legible: 32nd note triplets in an extremely slow tempo (as in, 12 notes to a single beat) were simply too hard to read. The plan was to use a built-in utility to make each 32nd note into a 16th note and redistribute All The Notes into new measures.
However, since none of the empty measures up and down the orchestra were real rests, those measures didn’t get doubled and redistributed. Therefore, on playback, nothing was aligned—woodwinds were wandering in and out when they should have been in sync with the strings—and though it might have been “interesting” it was not good.
So I used a utility to make all the empty measures real rests and tried again. (There was also an issue with the pickup measure not doubling.)
Now everything lined up, but none of the dynamics moved with their notes, i.e., ffs and pps and pizzicatos were way off.
Finally, after giving it a good listen, I decided that everything I’ve done since April 2008—and here I am referring to my entire life, not just my composition—has made it necessary for me to scrap the old stuff and start over.
I’m not starting from scratch. The opening mood and main theme will remain the same, but I’m rewriting it from the ground up. Literally: the swirling triplets that were in the violins are now in the celli and basses and are actually completely different notes. There’s a new countertheme that probably will grow in importance, and harmonies are a little different—and likely to become even more different—than before. It’s an adventure.
What prompted this?
Yesterday my lovely first wife and I went to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to hear a concert that featured a kinda-premiere of a symphony by Richard Prior, a professor at Emory. It was competent but not thrilling, and while I don’t think I’m at the same technical level as Dr. Prior, the experience made me think that I should take another look at my own symphony in the belief that it might actually be more interesting.
So there we go. The suspense is terrible; I hope it will last.