My second composition teacher was an expert at motivic analysis and pointing out the intricacies of motivic permutations. He was so impressed by the piano piece I’d written on the heels of my undergraduate epiphany that he dissected it into three and four note motives. All I could say was, “Wow. I wrote that?”
I had done some motivic analysis as an undergraduate. Every music student does—on Beethoven’s fifth symphony, and Brahms’ F Minor Quintet, among other pieces. But I found this kind of microscopic study irresistible, and got hooked on it. As I began to apply what I was learning to my own music, my output slowed. I got so immersed in minutiae that I began to fret over every note, re-writing more than I actually wrote.
My teacher was very upset. “You wrote so spontaneously when you came here,” he said, “and I ruined that.”
But I assured him he hadn’t. He had just given me a highly refined set of tools, and I needed time to master them, so that I could put them away.
Causes Barbara Froman Supports
Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
Greater Chicago Food Depository
Lawyers for the Creative Arts