'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Lonely Life of a Composer

Robin has a trip looming which requires him to enter 'high practice mode'. See yesterdays blog for the reasons.
But he is torn.
He is also in the throws of composition.
A new piece involving orchestra and choir.
When he picks up his guitar to practice he feels the pull of the computer to continue composing.
When he's at the computer the guitar is calling him back.
Consequently he is doing both.

All day I heard this struggle going on in the music room. It began to feel like I was married to 'Sybil', a character from a book of the same name, with multiple personalities.

Late in the evening I was called.
"What do you think if I get the choir to go into a fugue here?"
It was my turn for the stress response to kick in.
We listened to the whole piece so far, about 6 minutes.
I was familiar with the first 4 minutes as I'd been hearing it on and off all day.
When the new part arrived I was unsure.
The stress mounted.
Was all this responsibility on me?
If I say, "No, it doesn't work", will he delete it? I may deny the world something that they would love, just because I was tired and in the wrong frame of mind...

"Let me hear it again". I wanted more time.
We listened.
To my relief Robin then said, "I don't think it works."
He had taken the pressure off me in just a few words.
"Well, I don't think it does, but don't delete it yet. Lets listen again in the morning."
He left it where it was.

The reality is that whilst Robin wants my opinion, he's really only using me as a soundboard.
Who am I to say what will work. I'm not a musician.
But he wants reaction.
He needs to see how others will hear it.
Ultimately though he will make the decisions.

He knows what he's doing though.
From experience his own pieces have always been exceptionally well received in concert. Whether they be solo, duo or orchestral.
The fact is that nothing ever gets to the point of being heard by the public unless he is happy with it.

As Johannes Brahms once said, "The hard thing is not to compose, but to let the superfluous notes fall under the table."


gashcrumb said...

It's true, you've got to run stuff by other people some times. I'll sometimes play a half-finished bit of work for my wife and realize while listening to it with her in the room that perhaps one part goes on too long, or something doesn't fit in. And it's not even from her reaction really, it's listening to it in the presence of another person for some reason makes you hear it differently as opposed to when you're in the thick of working on the piece.

Anna said...

That's very true.
I'm sure Robin calls me to listen mainly for the reasons you've mentioned.
Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and keep composing!