on the Act of Composition





Sound processes: premonition, approach, discovery, explosion, transmutation, dissolution, remembrance

(perhaps a description of a piece of music ... or the actual act of composition).



The degree of desperation grows with increasing awareness, but fortunately so does the state of euphoria while working, as oneís thoughts far outstrip the speed of writing.



Inspiration is not a verbal process, nor can it be forced. It is the accidental occurrence of unstructured sounds impinging on the retina of the inner ear, on which, in a state of heightened alertness, these inchoate images can be emblazoned.



The dynamic potency of the interval; the dimension of colour (timbre) as the temperature of perception; articulation defines emotion.



Sounds are only pictures of what lies behind them.



Truthfulness is not a problem of musical language, but rather the ability to confront what motivates human beings (and not just musicians). The composerís voice should attempt to refract the light of truth like a lens.



Sound-space as a metaphor for living space.



Writing as a means of approaching an idea.



Composition: a way of structuring notes filtered out and left behind by a network of mutually exclusive possibilities.



Composition: compressing the infinite into the finite, or delimiting a tiny section of infinity.



Composition: a type of protocol of the transformation processes of cognition and perception; a profoundly individual event and subjective act.



Write each new piece to contradict its predecessors.



Perhaps the secret of all creative energy: have a goal in view, but never reach it entirely; every new piece is a form of asymptotic approximation.



Form is nothing but a vehicle for imparting order to mental connections. Associative and organic composition also have an overriding order, conditioned by the individuality of the creative mind.



Our task: to take things that obey an extra-temporal syntax in the inner ear and to translate them as accurately as possible into the language of sound.



Music is the prolongation of language with other means. Its message is not a reflection of reality; rather, it creates its own reality (acoustical, spatial, temporal) in which, ideally, the composer, performer and listener form a spiritual unity akin to three strings plucked on one and the same instrument.



Music is time made sensate. It is thus the emergence and dissociation from time into the timelessness of perceptions.



The point is not what sort of impact my music has. The point is solely the music itself, its expressivity and its will to expression. The search applies to that of which music is but a translation.



Concentration is reduction to essentials. Abstraction is the exclusion of the inessential and superfluous. Concentration and abstraction are the outgrowth of a process of maturity linked with experience.



Only perpetual searching will prevent the composer from self-indulgently reproducing a language purportedly his own. Only with intellectual mobility can there be continuous inner renewal, and only then can music move and affect something - "because", as Bernd Alois Zimmermann once put it, "its effect comes from the realm of intellect, and lies deepest in the awe of the mind that hears what it knows and has known but was unable to name".



© 1990 Michael Denhoff