Creativity and constraints

Creating is a strange process. Something that holds you back from creating something one day can actually be a huge spur to creativity, once you get past being held back.

I’ve always felt that being a rather incompetent pianist was a real disadvantage in composing songs. It rather restricted the mood of what I was writing – so I could write slow pieces with delicate textures, but not wild and dramatic outpourings of notes. Not that I wouldn’t have liked the wild and dramatic, but I just would never have been able to get my fingers round the notes, even with the help of multi-layer recording!

Anyway, I finally decided that I want and need to write some songs, and that my piano skills will have to do! I’ve been working on one song which is slow and delicate, and I can play the accompaniment myself but I would also really like to set a poem that I wrote a few days ago called heartsong. Which is wild and passionate – about harps and wind and song, and I knew my piano skills aren’t up to composing the sort of music I want to write on their own.

So I needed to get some ideas from somewhere to make up for my inability to play the piano well enough. In a very short time my research came up with: the true aeolian harp (i.e. a wind harp), Chopin’s Etude Op25 no 1 (called the Aeolian harp), a piece by Henry Cowell called Aeolian harp which involves sweeping the hands directly across the piano strings, and the aeolian mode.

So much inspiration! At the moment the Chopin seems to be perfect for the mood of what I want to write, so I want to see how I can draw on the elements of it that I love in my own piece. I have found the midi files and the sheet music, but it’s still very challenging to start messing around with a masterpiece!

If that doesn’t work I’d be really interested to try something involving stroking the piano strings directly – even a pianist as incompetent as me can do that!

Here’s a gorgeous recording of the Chopin:

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2 responses to “Creativity and constraints

  1. Pingback: Songs to heal a broken heart 1 - It is all over « Words that sing

  2. I’m sure you’re a very busy woman as it is… but have you ever thought of having piano lessons? Seems a pity to resign yourself so when a little guidance and some regular and structured practise might pull you up to a higher and more comfortable level of playing. Just a thought.

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