Composing Report: February 2016

This January I had set a goal to compose 8 bars per work day. In February I missed that mark — but I got closer. More importantly, my projects are moving ahead on schedule.

February Stats

Here are the numbers for February:

  • Active projects: 3
  • Bars composed: 147
  • Bars revised: 129
  • Bars arranged: 28
  • Additional sketch pages written: 15
  • Hours spent composing: 22
  • Days I composed vs. potential work days: 16/21
  • Potential bars composed (@8 bars/day): 168

In addition to the septet, I started work on a children’s song and a hymn arrangement. That last project inspired me to add a new stat — bars arranged, to distinguish it from my creative work (bars written) and my editorial work (bars revised).

A few highlights in these numbers:

  • The biggest change in February was a tenfold leap in my revision numbers (up from 17 in January), as my work on the septet has moved from generating material to selecting and refining.
  • I went from working on two-thirds of my potential days in January to three-quarters of them this month. It’s progress.
  • Perhaps influenced by my writing more days, my average hours composing went up by about 20 minutes a day (1 hour and 23 minutes in February versus 1 hour and 5 minutes in January).

Behind the Numbers

In the 19 hours I spent on the septet in February, it went from being a bunch of disconnected sketches to a piece with a narrative.

Earlier in the month I cataloged the material I liked from January and found I had about 7-minutes worth if played end to end. Still, I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

While riding the bus one evening, it occurred to me that two of my sketches would work really well if I superimposed them. So the next day I did, and the result brought the whole piece into focus.

Working consistently seems to invite such inspiration. There was another day, for instance, when I didn’t feel like working. I nonetheless sat down and just let myself goof off — just to get something done. I soon ended up producing 7 Bartók-esque bars. Though not yet useable, I enjoyed listening to them, and that joy took a slump day and made it encouraging.

Looking Ahead

I need to finish the septet by April 7 in advance of its premiere on May 8. Essentially, that means I need to complete the score in March so I have time in April to make any last revisions and produce the parts.

Stay tuned for March’s installment to see the showdown of “composing goals vs. looming deadline.”

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