Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Home Stretch

When I started this blog, I wanted it to be kind of a diary so I could look back on the creative process of writing this piece....well, the 10 week gap since my last post is also when the bulk of the writing happened, so that didn't quite work out. I kept thinking I should post something, but it never felt right.

It turns out that it would be an inward process this time, more than anything I've done before; there were weeks where I barely left the apartment, and entire days spent sitting at the kitchen table thinking through the big picture over and over again.

Ever since I was a kid, I've always worked in my head a lot. I almost never had rough copies of essays or papers, I would have them planned to a high degree in my head and sort out the final details while it was being put on paper. Same with math.

OK, Terry Fox and Alex P. Keaton
were my childhood heroes.
I've thought about being a kid a lot latley, because writing this has become an awful lot about my own childhood. Terry was my childhood hero, the highways of northern Ontario were the geography of the first 13 years of my life. The Courage Highway was an almost yearly part of our lives; sitting in the back seat of my Dad's Buick, a gas station-bought compilation tape called 'This Is Rock' on constant repeat, the A&W in Wawa (and the goose!), Minelli's in the Sault, and a few hours later that final stretch of highway, past the monument and down the hill into Thunder Bay.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
But all things must change, and the size and simple-yet-intricate nature of this piece (now officially titled '3339') has meant making a lot of physical notes and sketches, a part of the process I've actually quite enjoyed. One of my reasons for taking on this project was to re-examine my methods and try to make my own habits more efficient, and forcing myself to keep track of things with pencil and paper has been a change for the better.

And now we're in the final stretch, less than 3 weeks until I should be giving people their parts. It's been going very, very well but I've been stuck for a few days. There are 2 mirrored sections that are only sketched out, and the melodic material just hasn't been coming. I've parked myself at the piano for a few days and accomplished pretty much nothing, and then.....well sometimes the answer is right in front of you.

I meant the bass, the cat is useless with melody (great with harmony, though).

One of the changes I had put myself through was getting away from my instrument for the writing. I had access to a piano, and I was worried that writing mainly on the bass again would limit me. So for months I've been working on 3339 without my partner in crime, my wingman, my Chewbacca, and now it's time to wrap this all up together.

The last day of recording on 'Aim for the Roses' was the day I improvised over the entire record 4 or 5 times; just me and my bass hanging out and playing. When I realized I could wrap this piece up in the exact same way I was honestly filled with joy. Until last night, it hadn't occurred to me to write the final parts on my bass, but that's what today is.

Today, me and my constant companion of 14 years are going to lock the door, turn off the phone, shut down the computer and take the last part of this journey together.