At some point words become frail. I could say so much about what I’m doing as a composer, yet nothing but silence would come close to that by which I’m confronted in the act of composition. I could fill reams of program notes about formal method and procedures, but never be able to describe the terrifying (awe-inspiring) intimacy of the moment that music gets written.

I think why so many composers in computer music hide behind technology is because without an instrumentalist to be shielded by, they’re completely exposed. Every fault and failing is blasted to the world. Elements of themselves, which may or may not exist, are splayed for all to see and consume or vomit back in disgust. Real intimacy with one person you know well is scary enough. With people one doesn’t know? Horrifying.

Walking along the main street by my studio, words and actions become raw. The suffering of panhandlers contrasts the bacchanalia of fraternities and sororities. Mundane errands, lunch-seekers, and drug-pushers collide. Their humanity is too much. Nothing I can actively do will fill the gaping void formed from everyday life.

This is not the place prepared for me. A composer’s music, a contemplative’s prayer (if the two were ever separate), this is the bread of my life for others and my vocation. If, as critics of contemporary music alledge, we only write music to be ellitist, then if not for others, why would we expose ourselves (lovingly) in such a vulnerable way?

Receive, O Lord, this all-embracing host which your whole creation, moved by your magnetism, offers you at this dawn of a new day. This bread, our toil, is of itself, I know, but an immense fragmentation; this wine, our pain is no more, I know, than a draught that dissolves. Yet in the very depths this formless mass you have implanted–and this I am sure of, for I sense it–a desire, irresistible, hallowing, which makes us cry out, believer and unbeliever alike: ‘Lord make us one. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “Mass on the World”


~ by Jen on June 1, 2007.

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