I’m a composer (Day 173/365)

Seeing the article in the paper on Sunday was an interesting experience. For one thing, there was the surprise; I had expected the Times-Herald to publish it earlier in the week, and when they didn’t I assumed they had just tossed it. So it was a pleasant surprise to see it on Sunday morning.

It was more than pleasant. It was gratifying. The unambiguous headline: “William Blake’s Inn Moves into Production.” The outright definition of Lacuna as a local theatre cooperative. The ridiculously oversized photo of me and the flowers, with the sly caption about William Blake having sent the flowers from Poughkeepsie.

And more than all this, I realized, the shock accorded by the leap of faith it took for me to call myself “composer Dale Lyles.”

I am sure there are those who read the article and who snorted at the designation. I don’t think I’d be surprised at a list of those names, either. But over the past year or so, I have come to a new understanding of myself in that regard, and I am more than comfortable calling myself a composer.

Am I a trained musician? Nope, other than paying attention under various choral directors. Do I know one chord inversion from another? Maybe. If it’s a triad. In the home key. Could I write a susp. aug. 9th chord? Not if my life depended on it. (I’m not really even sure whether “susp. aug. 9th chord” is a real thing.)

But am I a composer? Yes, I am. I write music. I write lovely, effective music, and I’m getting better at it all the time. The last two pieces I’ve written, Blake Leads a Walk on the Milky Way, and the Epilogue, are very nice indeed. Those who might snort at my calling myself a composer have not heard this work.

That sounds a little defensive, and I don’t mean it to be. My point is that I think I’ve reached a new plateau in my creative efforts and can ditch some of my insecurities. I can make music do what I want it to, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s what a composer does.

4 thoughts on “I’m a composer (Day 173/365)

  1. And now the final step of dropping those who “snort” from your “libinal economy” and there you are: plenty more free energy for other things. Striving for a certain social, professional or fraternal cache is very exhausting.

    One idealizes musicians and forgets that many do enjoy a ferocious degree of tribalism, particularly the “trained.” It’s similar to the entitlement that goes along with being a Marine: they’ve bonded in a similar atmosphere of humiliation and uncompromising expectations and so they’ve earned the right to see themselves as a breed apart.

  2. I have never forgotten the ferocious tribalism of musicians. Trust me.

    And you’re right about dropping my concerns about them. I think I’m about there, except for those instances where the tribal leaders are gatekeepers for performance.

  3. Seeing as how certain gatekeepers are snatching away promised dates as it suits his fancy and then bestowing them on others more in his favor, I would just as soon work in another space without a gate to keep…

  4. You are the best composer I know. Really.

    I am now self-chastised for not keeping up with your blog. I had no idea that a story was running in the NTH. I will now have to go by the office and acquire a copy.


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