This post is a continuation of the previous one, which was about composing a blues tune for the Deborah Henson Conant (DHC) BluesHarp webinar.
Conceptually I liked what I had started last week, but doubts crept in after hearing the feedback and questioning my questioning. I did not want to extend myself, or to change gears, and start something new. I hoped it would need little change. But to expect that I wouldn’t make changes over a week’s time? I am far from that mark.
My contrary thinking always on full display. Think the direct opposite, try the different for the sake of being different, test the structure; do something else; think in reverse. And then sometimes I end up adhering to that contrary position, simply because it seems to differentiate, and be individual. This is where the final project is taking me. Testing the vessel’s ability structurally.
In last week’s blues homework, I went for dissonance, but purposeful dissonance; not the dissonance that comes from unknown improvisation. I have limited experience with improvisation, and I suspect that after years of becoming attuned (!) to improvisation, you do gain a pretty good sense of what it will sound like. But I am not there. When I heard DHC improvise for dissonance against my vamp it worked; when I heard my improvisation, I liked some of it, but it would unravel into something I questioned and couldn’t see my way through. I’d stop and start, over and over. The improvisation would seem ok for 10 or 15 seconds, and then some notes were fumbled or didn’t make sense to my ear and this would throw me off.
In race sailing, over-correcting the sail or tiller can make the boat less efficient, and slow it down. I get slowed down by over-analysis, and tinkering. If I limited my time I couldn’t do that, but that is something I can’t do. I suppose the art of sailing and of composing, is to develop an instinct for when changes and corrections are needed, and to sense when the corrections are over-done or over-thought.