October 6, 2016

a new blog: why?


I’m a heavy thinker. I’m always thinking about something intently and similarly, have trouble fully listening to others without unfolding my own responses simultaneously. I’ve always thought of myself as a writer who never writes, mostly because I think a lot, and my thoughts sound great in my head. Good writing, of course, is a combination of both having great sounding thoughts and being able to write them down.

In many ways, writing as a thought-realization closely mirrors composition as a “music in my head”-realization. Unfortunately, the dichotomy is not quite that tidy, and more often than not, composition is more of a “thoughts/music/feelings-in my head”-realization. Sometimes I let great thoughts sit for a while, because I’m afraid if I write them down, it will ruin everything. To worsen the excuse, I label this “while” as “writer’s block,” an ailment that (falsely) inhibits my ability to write. It’s an awful logic trap because in fear of ruining everything, the artist produces nothing. It is the fear of properly realizing my thoughts that keeps me from writing music, blogs, thank you cards – it’s as if I’m afraid I won’t catch everything in my head in the right way, and I’ll put something into the world before it’s been thought about enough.


As a composer, this onslaught of thought often helps my work a great deal because by the time I’ve reached the music part, I’ve somewhat built an edifice of narrative that produces form, development, great program notes, etc. However, sometimes all of this pacing, pontificating, and overly pretentious inquiry causes my projects to come together contrived, superficial, or mockingly imitative.

In other words, sometimes over-thinking clogs the compositional process, forcing the mind to stick to things that it doesn’t have the creative energy (or interest) to authenticate. It is my hope that this blog is an unclog-blog – with no consistent end-rhyme. Speaking of which, if you’ve ever read Leonard Bernstein’s journals, they have consistent end-rhyme.

Now, it’s not that I’m using this exercise to cure writer’s block (if there is such a thing) – but I do expect regular and deliberate reflection to moderate my heavy thinking, and improve the way my mind processes experiences. Extended, organized reflection is a communicative form that’s been regularly swallowed by the instantaneous connectivity of the world – and I do think that our generation’s poor attention towards written language reflects in the way we process art, specifically. But I really don’t want to climb the ladder of abstraction any further at this moment.


Dark, artistic pipe dreams aside, the simplest, most consistent reason this blog exists is I want to become a better writer. I love reading essays, articles, or interviews by other composers, particularly those discussions that tackle concepts or works that are difficult (for me) to digest. Inversely, I understand those composers much better, knowing how they reason through various issues of composition. Considering writing as a personal reflection, the ability to unpack concepts for myself helps me understand them better and hopefully, understand myself better in the process.

I’m not really a writer, I’m a composer, but contrary to this whole “when words fail, music speaks” mysteriousness, writing is the necessary vehicle of analysis and reflection. Of course there’s a wordless brilliance to the whole art form, but we discover and understand genius through language. To be clear, I don’t hold disbelief for the communicative powers of music in and of itself; not to bring Bernstein back into this, but one of his many troped quotes reads, “Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.” Although this is painfully, beautifully true, writing can provide the clarity and knowledge necessary to experience music to it’s fullest. In a way, where words fail, music speaks, and then words describe that experience until they can’t anymore, and then the music speaks again, and then words say more, and it goes back and forth until just the music is left. I suppose it’s possible that the author of that quote was just summarizing the process.

There’s an argument on the other end of all of this that says, “you should stop blogging and start writing music.”


This really won’t be a collection of ramblings. I had the option of making the next thing I say this entire post:

I’d like to write a combination of interviews, opinion pieces, concert reviews, project updates, really anything that catalogues my experiences. As a young composer in the Detroit area, I think the city has a lot to offer as far as arts and culture and I’d like to write about some of it. As young professional who works for a chamber-music presenting organization, I think I know a lot about the industry that I’m creating in. As a young composer who exists in myself, I think I have a lot to offer to this blog.