I’m often asked how I work when I compose and arrange music, and it seems to me that many people today work more in creating, rather than composing, new music. To me, the distinction is in the physical methods of the working process, and the methods of self-evaluation and proof-reading of what has been created.
To bypass the manual writing process, and the page-by-page layout and overview of the score, is to me to work with creating, and not composing. Composing is to me the process of manual labor with a draft score, and the methodical work of scrutinizing how the parts interact aesthetically in the score, and probing, thinking and rethinking, and ultimately killing ideas that seem good in thought, but turn out to be dysfunctional from aspects that not always include how they sound – though those other aspects most often turn out to have a strong congruence to musical adequacy.
When I compose, I work on my piano to find the lines, chords and dynamics I want and write them in a sketchbook. From the sketchbook I write a sketch score, which I modify, extend or cut until I deem the piece to be as I want it. Finally I use my computer as
a typewriter, to edit the score and the parts. Writing the sketch score by hand, makes it possible for me to see and sense the music in a direct physical way, and I can directly see the layout of the piece and the parts visually, by laying out the pages. To me, this process is essential to make the music dynamic and fluent from an over all grasp of the piece and its parts.