Time is what musicians are most consumed with – using time to manipulate emotions. Whether it’s the tiny packets of time which produce pitch, or the epic expanse of a symphonic structure.
We present our ideas to people and put them on a roller coaster. Once they’ve committed to the journey – our music – then they only have to settle in and enjoy the ups and downs. When the ride is over we hope that their head is filled with wonders.
This requires quite a bit of science on our part, in collaboration with our muse.
My relationship with the muse has evolved. I’ve learnt to let her set the pace. I don’t push, I feed her, cajole her. If the ideas aren’t flowing I fill her with art and ideas. Together we graze, we hunt. We devour Ravel, we get drunk on the smell of a dried eucalypt forest.
I’m not religious but I’m a very spiritual person. By this I mean that I let myself off the hook occasionally. I don’t ask science to tell me why I like Paella or Poulenc. When the idea for a piece of art comes I’m not going to put on my white coat and present it to my horde of hungry lab rats. Instead I’ll say a quiet hallelujah and explore the possibilities.
After my wife passed away a few years ago I was faced with a huge void. My whole understanding of time was wiped clean. In a cruel way it presented a blessing, I could no longer be the micro managing obsessive Virgo. My brain physically changed with grief and I had to give myself over to the tides of loss. For the first time in my life I woke up some mornings devoid of ideas but my muse and I sailed quietly through the storm.
When we emerged, she was the one in control and I gave myself over to her.
I’m not saying that I lie on the grass staring at clouds waiting for ideas to come. I’m very proactive. My muse is humble, she never asks anything of me. But I know that she’s always hungry so I practice and study and when we reach critical mass, great blessings flow forth.
I can’t always be this patient of course. I’m thankful that when I compose music on an hourly rate I’m rarely short of ideas – but this is often just a numbers game. What I’m talking about is the real stuff, the stuff that feeds my soul and hopefully other peoples’ souls as well.
This is the stuff that’s worth the wait.