Much better progress today. I’ve written a whole bunch of new notes for Lilies on the Silver Sea. I sat down this morning while waiting for the window-installation blokes to turn up and worked out what I want to do with the piece structurally. This has to do with both the structure of the end of Voyage of the Dawn Treader and how to deal with the material I have, my difficulty proceeding and tendency to write short things, not long things.
My thinking at the moment (which may change!) is to think of the piece in four loose sections. The progress through the last two chapters of the book is as follows:
- Dawn Treader travelling through sweet water.
- Dawn Treader travelling through lilies
- Edmund, Lucy, Eustace and Reepicheep in the rowing boat
- Edmund, Lucy and Eustace find dry land and the way home
In the book, the progress through these three phases is like a refinement – section 1 has the most characters involved – the principals, sailors, merpeople under the sea, section 2 focuses on the principals. In section 3 we leave the Dawn Treader behind and say farewell to Reepicheep, and then finally the sea stops and dry land is found for Edmund, Lucy and Eustace. Not quite Aslan’s country, but their way home.
Similarly, as the character count reduces and the focus narrows, the experience simplifies and becomes more ecstatic. This I’m not sure how to convey, but as it’s not supposed to be a retelling of the story in music, I’m not hugely concerned – I would like to achieve it, but right now I’m more concerned with creating a coherent piece which has a suitable dramatic drive to it.
So – for now, at least – the approach I’m taking, largely to help me over this stumbling block of not being sure of how to work with the quarter-tones and without my usual processes, is to create short sections of music. Right now I’m letting go a little and just coming up with ideas rather than writing a piece from start to finish as I usually would. I think this is a more productive way to approach this when I’m so uncertain about how to proceed. I’m using some of the ideas from the first section I wrote, some from the second, some being made up as I go along. I’m pretty sure at least some of what I’m writing will be chucked, but it’s keeping me moving and when I have a few ideas down then I’ll look at melding them together to create a proper piece. My vague thoughts at the moment are to end up with four distinct ideas, present them all in the first section, then in smaller clumps down through 3, 2 and to 1 as the final section, with the repetitions treating the quarter-tones slightly differently each time.
Alas, Ladders hasn’t had a look in today, what with the window installation and going two rounds with the tar in the bedroom (half the room done now!!). Tomorrow… tomorrow…