Monday, November 16, 2015

New Song Diary: Works in progress?

Last Saturday, SJT presented 11 new song ideas (yes, ELEVEN) to a small audience.  These were all Works in Progress.  For us, a Work in Progress (WIP) means that there is more to do, adjust, rework, etc.  They’re also rarely as long as a full piece.

We’ve spent three, maybe four months developing our ideas, teaching them, and practicing them.  For the last 2 weeks we just did run-throughs of the 11 pieces to prepare for the presentation.   Compared to a “show”, this was less formal and with less pressure.

I’ve never had a “Work in Progress”.  I’ve only had…well, “Works”.  I write songs and they get played.  Not that anything I write is automatically good enough to BE played, but in the past when I’ve put in the time and intention to write a piece, it has been performed.  So now I’m looking at my two WIPs and it’s going to be different now that they’ve “debuted”.

In my head, I know my pieces aren’t done.  One is well on its way, and the other is just getting its footing.  I have a lot of work to do to develop them fully.  The thing is, I’ve heard them played dozens of times to the point where I’m used to hearing them as “completed”.  So I’ll have to step back and re-think of them both as still “in progress”, and remember that I can edit and adjust things as I feel I need to, even if some of the changes are large ones.

At this point, I don’t know if it was a good thing for my pieces to have this stopping point or not.  It's not that the WIP presentation was a bad thing, I mean that in the context of creating a new idea, would it have been better to keep creating and be open to change until the end?  Or is having a “foothold” a way to have a solid core to grow from?

I figure the answer will be different for each piece and I can’t “go back” and try different paths for them, so maybe there’s no way of knowing unless I, as a composer, wind up preferring one way or the other.  After my 12 Songs in 12 Weeks experiment, I did learn a few things about my preferences, but this is new territory and I want to stay open-minded.  

Regardless, at least one of these songs will be completed – but who knows when or where it (they) will be performed!

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