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Composing Report: March 2016

I knew that March was going to be crunch time. The past few days I’ve been composing between 5 and 8 hours a day. Still, this week and all month my work was never frantic. Achieving such steadiness was one of my desired outcomes for the goals I set in January, so I’m pleased to be approaching that ideal.

March Stats

  • Active projects: 2
  • Bars composed: 167
  • Bars revised: 314
  • Bars arranged: 6
  • Additional sketch pages written: 7
  • Hours spent composing: 56
  • Days I composed vs. potential work days: 20/23
  • Potential bars composed (@8 bars/day): 184

Exploring the Numbers

Although my composing speed remained steady (about 8.5 bars composed or revised per hour), I’m pleased with how my time spent composing has continued to increase. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Perhaps the largest change was in my hours composed. I almost tripled February’s total hours (22), and I about doubled February’s average hours (2h50 vs. 1h23).
  • March’s also revision numbers nearly tripled February’s (129).
  • March continued the trend of missing fewer potential composing days, from 7 to 5 to 3.

Looking Ahead

In the 52 hours I spent on the septet in March, I fleshed out the piece’s narrative and completed about 85% of it. Fortunately, I’ve completed all the hard work.

Over the weekend, I hope to wrap the piece up and then spend the first full week of April tweaking and proofreading. This schedule is still a little tighter than I’d like, but I don’t foresee having to pull any all-nighters.

Sometime this coming week I also need to name the septet. My initial inspirations were clouds and hatching patterns, but the piece has gone in a different direction. The way I hear it, the music is dark, but at the same time it glows. It reminds me of jungles, opals, Greek choruses, flickering sunlight, purple, and moonlit water. None of these are good titles in themselves, but where these images lead.

2 comments

  1. Scott Mains says:

    I would have to be much more patient than I am today to compose at a rate of 8 bars a day. I imagine if I tried to compose for more than just piano I would be much slower than that. I would like to one day be able to spend as many days as you do composing. Do you count these statistics by hand. Or do you have a program that keeps track of this?

    • Joseph Sowa says:

      In themselves, individual bars of music aren’t that revealing. I choose 8 bars because it’s about the length of one or two musical phrases — that is, I want to write and think about music in terms of its relationships, its hierarchical repetitions and shapes, rather than in terms of isolated sounds. There are two separate tasks here: (1) identifying a sound or a gesture and (2) multiplying that sound to shape a larger structure. Often those larger shapes or structures are pre-existent, but I still want to connect the right shape with my chosen sound. I’m trying to make 8 bars sound easier and more achievable. I’m not sure it’s working, but I think I’ll try to flesh this out in a blog post sometime.

      Regardless, in tracking my progress, I made a google form in which I can enter the relevant stats. I also have a time punch app I use. Counting bars written is fairly easy. Counting bars revised can be a little harder, so I have to keep a running tally. I also made a decision to count multiple revisions of the same bar as separate instances as long as they happen on different days. During a work day, I just keep a running note of which bars I’ve revised. I log this information as part of my report.

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