A New Dictionary of Art is an absurd project, but a serious one and, to paraphrase a final definition from page 131, ‘makes the ordinary seem extraordinary’.
On a warm July morning, twenty one musicians descended on Harlaxton manor for five days of flute playing and composing at the annual rarescale summer school. An eclectic bunch, the flautists ranged from talented amateurs to music college graduates embarking on performing careers, and the composition group consisted of undergraduate music students and early career composers.
You may be familiar with the idea of writing a first draft of an essay, and then editing it down to get to the final version? In my view, to edit a body of work is something that needs to be done continuously and not done just at the end, through reflecting on what ideas/techniques are working and what isn’t and making the decision to either take them forwards or ‘edit’ them out and leave them behind. Editing your work ensures that ideas are always pushed forwards and projects aren’t left to become stagnant and uninspire.
I have, probably since the age of 14 or so, identified myself as a composer. I played piano (and also guitar and flute rather unsuccessfully), and have variously performed as a classical pianist, accompanist, duo partner, cocktail pianist, jazz pianist, and even a keyboardist in a rock band, yet because I studied composition at music college, and I now lecture in composition, I never really identified as being a performer.
“I think piece titles are very important! A piece should drape naturally from its title, in the same way a coat hangs off a peg. I often find the music suggests a title, which certainly happened in Summer Anthem, with the title drawing upon the generic association of dance music with the summer season and of this genre with club ‘anthems’, this term often indicating a big hook.”
Reflecting on your work underpins your entire practice; it is essential to be able to look objectively at your work and really review things such as- why you have done something, how does it work, is it a success or does it require more development/thought, how would it be improved, and the specifics of why it has worked/not worked.