Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Beethoven on how he wrote his music

     Then from the focus of enthusiasm I must discharge melody in all directions; I pursue it, capture it again passionately; I see it flying away and disappearing in the mass of varied agitation; now I seize upon it again with renewed passion; I cannot tear myself from it; I am impelled with hurried modulations to multiply it, and, at length I conquer it: behold, a symphony!  Music, verily, is the mediator between the life of the mind and the senses...
     The mind wants to expand into the limitless and universal where everything flows into a stream of feelings which spring from simple musical thoughts and which otherwise would die away unheeded. This is harmony, this is what speaks from my symphonies, the sweet blend of manifold forms flows along in a stream to its destination. There indeed one feels something eternal, infinite, something never wholly comprehensible is in all that is of the mind, and although in my works I always feel that I have succeeded, yet at the last kettle-drum with which I have driven home to my audience my pleasure, my musical conviction, like a child I feel starving once again in me an eternal hunger that but a moment before seemed to have been assuaged...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Structural Polyphony

In lyrical poetry, to be sure, we find numerous examples of a development suggesting a simple figure, a perceptible curve.  But the types are always very elementary.  When I speak of composition, I have in mind poems in which an attempt is made to equal the masterly complexity of music by introducing "harmonic" relationships, symmetries, contrasts, correspondences, etc., between their parts. - Paul Valéry

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dylan Thomas's love for the lives of words

I fell in love – that is the only expression I can think of – once, and am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing a little of their behavior very well, I think I can influence them slightly and have even learned to heat them now and then, which they appear to enjoy. I tumbled for words at once. And, when I began to read the nursery rhymes for myself, and, later, to read other verses and ballads, I knew that I had discovered the most important things, to me, that could be ever. There they were, seemingly lifeless, made only of black and white, but out of them, out of their own being, came love and terror and pity and pain and wonder and all the other vague abstractions that make our ephemeral lives dangerous, great, and bearable. Out of them came the gusts and grunts and hiccups and heehaws of the common fun of the earth; and though what the words meant was, in its own way, often deliciously funny enough, so much funnier seemed to me, at that almost forgotten time, the shape and shade and size and noise of the words as they hummed, strummed, jugged, and galloped along.

That was the time of innocence; words burst upon me, unencumbered by trivial or portentous association; words were their springlike selves, fresh with Eden's dew, as they flew out of the air. They made their own original associations as they sprang and shone. The words "Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross," were as haunting to me, who did not know then what a cock-horse was nor cared a damn where Banbury Cross might be, as, much later, were such lines as John Donne's, "Go and catch a falling star, Get with child a mandrake root," which also I could not understand when I first read them.

And as I read more and more, and it was not all verse, by any means, my love for the real life of words increased until I knew that I must live with them and in them always. - Dylan Thomas