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Later Winter/Early Spring and the “Sanctus”

The long, frigid winter won’t give in to our expectations of sunshine and new growth. No matter how much we complain on Facebook or try to melt the snow with shear force of will, we are not in charge. The slow process of the earth waking from its ongoing, icy dreams will unfold as it unfolds, and there’s nothing we can do about it.  But it will come.

The long, often uncertain, unpredictable process of composing the Missa Kreyol is unfolding in the same way.  A new piece of music exerts its will upon me during this transition from concept to draft. I often feel like the music will choose to emerge when it is darn good a ready, and not a day before.  Ideas will suddenly bloom after weeks of wandering around in a creative, cold winter.

The wandering is essential, ignoring it doesn’t help.  Getting others involved is essential. Living inside your head doesn’t help.

I had a great discussion on this topic with students, faculty and community members from the Conservatoire de musique du Quebec a Gatineau yesterday.  In the first half, we looked at the process of composing multi-ethnic music… the essential questions of intellectual property rights, honoring ethnic music traditions, striving for authenticity, working closely with tradition bearers, understanding the audience and more.   In the second half, we shared the creative process by setting part of the “Sanctus” text to a rhythmic framework.  We worked the Latin words, “Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth” by speaking them out loud (everyone together), listening closely to the common rhythm that emerged from this group, then placing that rhythm into a tempo.  The idea bloomed.

Last week, the settings for the “Kyrie,” “Gloria,” andBenedictus” starting coming together. The “Kyrie” is the farthest along, but the other two took form during my extended drives to/from Quebec. Long, open highways serve as fruitful creative environments (don’t worry, I wait for the rest stops to write the ideas on paper!). But it wasn’t until we reached the second half of today’s workshop at the Conservatoire that the “Sanctus” took it’s first step out of the cold, dark conceptual world and into the sunshine of having musical notes on the paper.

Hoping to spend a big chunk of the day today developing these ideas into a full draft.