Sunday, February 6

presenting memory

We are all writers of our own stories, which are in a constant state of revision. The composer Maurice Ravel's thoughts about inspiration and originality are particularly interesting in this context. Ravel commented that if a composer has nothing to say, he would "do well to repeat what has been well said." He added that if a composer does have something to say, it will emerge from his "unwitting infidelity to the model." In other words, "originality" in music (or any art) is like the fiction of memory that results when we attempt to reconstruct an exact replica. We can't help being creative: that is how our minds work. The challenge is to recognize our particular fictions, to capture them as best we can and to present them clearly, like dreams told well.

-- Bruce Adolphe Of Mozart, Parrots and Cherry Blossoms in the Wind


Themes don't come to me when I'm not thinking about composing, but rhythms do. Sometimes I get a funny rhythmic idea because of trying to walk down the street in New York; the traffic patterns have given me ideas. And I've gotten ideas for many pieces from looking outside a train window and seeing things rush by, and then looking inside the train -- the relativity of things. I have a lot of pieces where there are two simultaneous tempos.

-- Bruce Adolphe