Yesterday I tackled my first variations of the Memory Variations piece I am working on for electric guitar and marimba for the Liminal Space Contemporary Music Ensemble. As expected, I really had difficulty remembering details. The opening and closing gestures (at least the harmonies) were pretty easy to remember (at least I think) after a few minutes of playing the piano. And that is what I think if going to get me through this process is actually muscle memory. But, the middle section was very difficult to retain anything from the original thematic material. I think in the end I might have gotten some of the harmonies right but, I'm sure the rhythmic material is very, VERY different in this variation.
Yesterday was an odd feeling primarily because my initial reaction was one of disappointment when I couldn't remember something. But, that is the point. I need to tell myself that when that happens, its a good thing. It is confirming the experiment.
When I am faced with a section where I just remember the feeling or the gesture or something but mot all the details, I am approximating what I think it might have been. The thematic material was all written according to my current harmonic, rhythmic, and gestural language. So in a sense, if I can't remember something exactly, I write something that I would have written and hope it is close.
The general form of the variation might have changed as well. It was based around a background level (post-tonal prolongation speak) descending chromatic line from D down to Bb. These served as hit points in the form. But, what came in between them? I'm not really sure for some moments.
This could not have gone better. Now, I will have another three weeks to "remember/forget" the material I wrote down today and then try it all over again. I think the beginning and ending will even further solidify and the middle material will continue to vary quite a bit. Thanks for reading!!!