I was so exhausted last night at 3 a.m., and it was too cold (and I was too lazy) to put on my coat to take a walk outside, so I stayed in bed with my laptop, browsing ("stalking" is a more appropriate word) other people's facebook and twitter. And so I realized why I have written so much music. There are people who spend hours, days, weeks and months of their lives playing those games such as FarmVille, Texas HoldemPoker, errr... what else? Oh yes, that Social Sims thing. And then other people spend their spare time doing sudoku and crossword puzzles. Well, my game is made of notes. As I have always said about the beginning of my pianistic interest when I was around 4 or 5 that I considered piano as a toy, so do I with notes. Writing polyphony for me is like doing a crossword puzzle. Setting words into music is like doing a sudoku. And I do it everywhere: on trains, planes, at home, on holidays ... and even in the midst of a big project like writing operas.
Writing big pieces means that one has to obey the big structural plan, which means less freedom in composing for weeks and sometimes months. Of course one can change part of the plan during its execution, but again one designs a rule, not so different than a map, and gotta stick to it. After a while one loses the fun of being creative and free. While writing short piano pieces (or other instruments) or vocal music based on poems doesn't need a real plan. A simple structure, yes, but then one immediately execute it and finish it in a few hours or less. And sometimes I know how it sounds as a whole so I don't need to plan anything, I just write the notes....
...like what I discovered about my own songs based on poems by Nanang Suryadi, whose tweets I follow. Just before I started to write this blog entry I browsed my archives, and realized that I have done 7, yes seven, songs based on his poems! And I thought I had done only 3 or 4 at the most. Some of them are very short poems, and therefore they were done very quickly in a flash of mind, so I forget them very quickly too. Just try to do something on a train, and when you arrive you get to be introduced to the people who pick you up at the station, eat and gossip around with a bunch of new acquaintances ... and you will forget what you did on the train. And this doesn't happen only with the short poems of Nanang Suryadi, I also "discovered" my own songs based on that lady champ of very short poems Medy Loekito and even one of Walt Whitman who normally didn't write short poems.
When I said that I know how the music sounds as a whole I refer to my short pieces, a maximum of 3 minutes or so. Now, do you know that people like Mozart could conceive A WHOLE SYMPHONY in one flash? And I wouldn't be surprised if he could conceive a whole opera as well. That is amazing, I know, but in fact it should not be that mind blowing. I mean, what's the difference of 3 minutes and half an hour, if we consider perceiving music is like dreaming: a long dream with a complicated plot can occur for just 1 second. Which means that time is subsituted by space.
It shouldn't be that amazing ... but why was there only one Mozart?