An Idle Mind was the first piece I started to work on this year. The challenge for me was to compose some short small ideas, and develop them into bigger ideas. Graeme suggested I write something that was fugal in nature, as it would help me develop my technique of thematic development. I found this to be a great challenge for me. For the most part of my musical life, my pieces have been full of ideas but lacking in any in depth thematic development. This is mostly due to the many years I spent writing music for the heavy metal bands I was a part of. This type of music usually consists on four or five riffs that get repeated eight to sixteen times in exactly the same way throughout a three-minute song.
The main idea for this piece came from a theme I created using a synthetic mode made up of two minor chords in first inversion a semitone away from one another.
From this theme, I would create as many variations as I possibly could. I would then bring them to my mentor, and we would discuss the ideas that were barely usable, and throw away the ones that were complete garbage. I would then develop the good ideas further, until I had about three or four sections of music that lasted about one minute each. The next challenge I came across was to make this theme work in a fugal type setting. I found I could get the beginning of the fugue going well, but once the theme was heard in all of the voices I hit a brick wall. This lasted for a few weeks, in which time I began to think that I could not do it. It wasn’t until I heard the inspirational words of my teacher telling me I that I “just need to sit down and do the fucking thing”, that I began to get somewhere with the fugal setting. Those words from my teacher gave me the most important lesson this year, as I have used them for all of my pieces from then on. Almost every bar in this piece contains a fragment of this theme. Wether it be the rhythmic section, melodic section, or harmonic section. I have learnt a lot from composing this piece, and lessons that I will use in many pieces to come.