Symphony No. 1 – Finishing the 3rd movement, starting the 2nd

With this movement, and with each in the symphony, I want to dwell on a single theme in the way I did not and could not with my one-piece-per-month freshman exercises of last year. This work is my first major effort after those, and second efforts anachronistically always feel like senior theses to me, eschewing middle courses and diving in with more confidence. (This is a bit opposite to the curse of the sophomore slump but hopefully doesn’t result in an overfull mess.) Along with listening to it for coherence, I shallowly looked to the length in order to get a shorthand sense of whether I’ve committed enough time. The ~9 minutes of this movement feels like I’ve dwelt enough, and more importantly its flow and expression sound like it’s achieved enough. I’m content for now.

Mixing it in Dorico, which I plan after the symphony is complete, is going to take many weeks.

31 Aug 2020, the start of the 2nd movement.

More thoughts on the subject of time that I mentioned previously in relation to this symphony. From the essay A New Refutation of Time: Borges on the Most Paradoxical Dimension of Existence, a quote by Borges:

I deny, with the arguments of idealism, the vast temporal series which idealism admits. Hume denied the existence of an absolute space, in which all things have their place; I deny the existence of one single time, in which all things are linked as in a chain. The denial of coexistence is no less arduous than the denial of succession.

Outside each perception, matter does not exist; outside each mental state, spirit does not exist; neither then must time exist outside each present moment.

Jorge Luis Borges, A New Refutation of Time, from Sur no. 15, May 1944 and Otras inquisitiones (1952)

The essay is available in Labyrinths and the collection Selected Non-Fictions. A copy of the essay is available here in PDF. A spoken version is here on YouTube, lasting 47:33 (though it’s a much faster read).

While interviewing Alexandra Petri about her book Nothing is Wrong and Here is Why, Emily Nussbaum observes:

This is definitely a book about a crazy-making time. It runs from 2016 I believe until now, and it works as kind of a warped diary of the period. And I have to say I found it particularly good at capturing how time itself feels broken. As though everything is happening at once too fast and too slow.

Emily Nussbaum from Alexandra Petri, “Nothing is Wrong and Here is Why” on the Politics and Prose YouTube channel

Before Coronavirus, we waited for an end to Trump that, even when it comes, will never come because the current moment feels eternal. After, we will wait for an end to a different sickness imposed on us, that has changed us, and we’ll be stuck in that state forever. This movement is about all of those episodes of static time that we feel, then forget, and then become static in a new moment.

I’m looking to balance sections of stopped activity (busy, but fixed in time) and forward motion that never arrives. I started to worry that the initial melody is too “arbitrary”, though I then listen to Ferneyhough’s use of a somewhat scattered melody and feel more confident in that approach. Those initial ideas provide the germ to build upon, and already I’m recombining them. And injecting references to the 3rd movement.

I feel comfortable that I am neither in a frenzied push to write and finalize the work nor in a lazy, maybe-I’ll-write-this-novel mode. I’m here for the haul, and cannot see myself faltering.