So usually I like to create a grand plan for my pieces, detailing much about the structure, aesthetic, textures, well pretty much the lot. Except for the actual musical material – the melodies, rhythmic fragments, progressions that will end up in the piece. It’s kind of like building top down, but having no idea what the materials I’m using are.
Then, more often than not, the more I work on the piece and develop those materials, the structure I spent so much time on gets weaker and weaker. That is, it has to bend to accommodate what the music needs. I think if I were to compare those grand plans (often detailed spreadsheets, once with colour coding…) to what the final piece was, there would be a huge difference.
Why does that matter? Because I think I can lose the balance, the pace, the logic of the piece by pretty much ignoring the overall structure somewhat. Although the pieces still make sense, by trusting my instincts more than anything, perhaps they are missing out on that next level.
So challenge for the next few pieces – build a plan that includes both top and bottom at the same time; plan the larger structure but also work on the musical materials and see how they will fit together. Then, stick to that structure with great discipline. Trust the plan as well as my instincts. And see what the results are…