Reading back through ancient posts, I have been mildly amused to find how I referred time and time again either to how much progress had been made in the development of POAEM, or to an actual estimate of a release date. Foolish, foolish me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during the last few months in particular, it’s that there are way too many factors involved in a work of this scale (more on the “scale” of it in a moment) to be able to predict when it will be “finished”. What I’ve finally concluded today though is that the thoughts and concepts that I wanted to go into this work will never be “finished”. I was reading Gary Lachman’s book about Rudolf Steiner, and there was a moment today in which the associated narrative in my head told me that your work should be a reflection of where you are now, at this moment in time (at the time of writing the work, whatever that work happens to be), rather than some far-off place you hope to reach…because essentially, there’s no way you can really predict when, or even if, you will ever reach that time when everything falls into place. I’m not talking about the work itself, I’m talking about the concepts and the story behind it (in the case of POAEM).
On that note, I said I’d mention the scale of the piece. Well, a long time ago I said that I’d written 80% of this work already – and yes, at that time, that percentage was probably pretty accurate. By that stage, it had already grown way beyond my original plan for this work, which was basically a 6 track EP; I think it had reached 18 tracks and I figured it must be nearly complete at least in structure, even if a lot of the detail still required refining. However, by now it’s a different beast entirely. Those 18 tracks have been pared down a little – I’m not going to talk about numbers any more, that’s ridiculous – down because the concept has moved on and some of the music and themes in the lyrics just aren’t relevant any more. That rejected music will appear somewhere, sometime, but probably not in this particular work. However, what’s also happened is that the 80% unfinished work now seems to be approximately 50% of the work I have planned to undertake by this point.
Did I say I wasn’t going to mention numbers? Numbers are cool. I can’t help myself.
I think the reason I wanted to make this my first blog post on this new site is that, having had such a long absence from the web in this context, I wanted to explain how these things change, move on, develop. You already know I’m sure that I’m not really interested in the commercial nature of my own music any more – I’m only interested in whether it’s right. If you happen to enjoy it and take something from it, then so much the better – audience is vital when the work is complete – but the main focus is on getting it right so that it reflects what I want it to convey and achieve. You may remember back in 2008 or maybe early 2009 I said that I was interested in interpretation; well, this work has come full circle in that respect and interpretation is likely to be a central theme in terms of how it’s presented and performed. I’d love to say more about that, but I’ve learned that silence is the best option where unfinished work is concerned…
That brings me onto another point, and that’s the performance of the piece. For years now I’ve been obsessed with my inability to record the music I hear in my head. Anything you have heard to date has been a reflection of what I aimed for, but never what I actually wanted to present to you. Recorded music baffles me more and more, because it’s the recording process (for those who don’t understand the features that are required to make music live and breathe) which is killing music. I mean that wholeheartedly; I’ve studied music for almost my entire life, but only in the last 2 or 3 years have I really understood what it is about music that makes me increasingly not want to listen to it – yes, seriously – and the conclusion I’ve reached is that it’s not so much the music itself, but the way in which the life is compressed out of it during the recording process. This is a whole topic on its own so I won’t expand on it here; however, suffice it to say that this has been a major factor in determining where I personally go from here. POAEM is a work to be performed, no question, and I hope to God I can not only get it finished but also performed in my lifetime. As you can see, my thoughts are tending more towards the performance than the recording now, in the hope that it can be presented a little more closely to the music I’m hearing in my head. If I could only plug a PA system in to my brain, it would be a much more straightforward process.
So, onwards, forwards, but probably not skywards. For now, anyway.