70+ Tracks Written | 10+ Years Writing | Only 6 Released | Why?
Where to begin when discussing the end? A lofty question to illuminate the difficulty I have had in finding the right place to start with discussing this project. By researching, reflecting and discussing the question “When is a piece of music finished?” through the lens of my compositions and creative practice, an intricate web of interconnected nodes has weaved itself into a fairly hefty structure. There are threads of music psychology, musicology, identity and perfectionism (to name a few), all connecting to each other and branching elsewhere. It’s been an ongoing process that has been refined and continues to do so, so finding where is best to begin has been like picking a static point on an object in flux. So dear reader, before I present an overview of what to expect from these Tales, please keep in mind that I will be making no declarations of objective truth, rather I am hoping that by sharing the development of my music and my research, it will contribute to the ongoing conversation and generate some discussion.
Having written a substantial amount of music over time, but not actually releasing any of it, the question “when is a piece of music finished?” seemed a worthy line of artistic inquiry into my creative practice. As will be discussed in further blogs, this core question, applied to my creative practice, revealed several other questions to ask of myself and my music:
If not now, when?
Who decides when it is finished?
Can a piece of music be finished?
To break this down briefly, for this project I have been looking at the self, music and the dialogue in between. When looking at myself, I question my perpetual pursuit of perfection (it’s a great goal to strive for, but it must be tempered with the acknowledgement that it cannot be attained). When looking at my music, I ask can a piece of music be finished? And when looking at the connections between myself and my music, I ask if not now, when?
From my own experience, I have found my own compositions to be an extension of myself, some sort of set of sonic self-portraits. But the self is not a fixed state - we are constantly growing and developing in relation to our environment. So if who we are is in a state of flux and the music we write is an extension/expression of who we are, then the music we write will never be finished for the same reason that there is not, and never will be, a finished version of who we are. Further to this, if we look at music as a process rather than a final product or as Christopher Small puts it, “music is not a thing at all but an activity, something people do”, then it begs the question can it be finished?
With this in mind, instead of confidently declaring that I will be releasing finished pieces of music, I would prefer to frame it as my Tunes are a complete collection of unfinished works (or frozen frequencies, or snapshots of sound, or...I'll get back to you on the name). This distinction I've made here is very much a work in progress so I will be expanding on this and a great deal more in the Tales to follow.
This project has generated a fair amount of interesting chats with friends across different art disciplines so if you are reading this and have some thoughts, leave a comment below letting me know.