Well, here we go!
Since my last post, I haven't done much on the commission. A lot of thinking, and sketching a few melodies. One of which I really liked, but wasn't sure if it would fit with the rest of the piece. Then again, I wasn't sure what "the rest of the piece" would be like.
Then, earlier this week, while I was looking for a good way to word a title for a completely unrelated project, I stumbled upon a poem by Edgar Allan Poe: The Bells.
Sometimes inspiration is already inside you when you start a new project. Sometimes you know already exactly what you need to write. But sometimes you accept a project before the music is there, in your head, and you have to go finding inspiration to try and get the music to surface. That's what the last month or so has been. And I think that, just maybe, I have found the spark that fires up my music.
As I read through the poem, it stirred emotions inside of me that resonated so strongly that they will just jump out of the music I write, almost unconsciously. The first stanza is about sleigh bells (on a cold, invigorating winter day), the second is about wedding bells, the third is about alarm bells (how can that not inspire music?), and the last is about funeral bells.
So, at this point, the commission looks like this in my mind: Four movements. One for each stanza. Using lots of metallic percussion. Definitely E flat clarinet, because of the third movement. A bunch of French horns, because of the nobility second and the panic of the third movement. Two piccolos, because of the first movement. A theme, or rhythmic motif, that runs through all of the movements, tying them together without jumping out, because the idea will morph in each successive movement to fit the new emotional palette. Pretty jumbled list of ideas. But I'll start to sort them out over the next few weeks, and then you will hear from me again!
But for now, I've got work to do...