Sunday, September 25, 2011

writing and more writing

I know, I know. I keep writing about writing and not necessarily writing here. I have been struggling with some material that is important in the newest series for Mockingbird. I am also struggling with a couple of future series to write about the DC animated universe as well. Been thinking about a couple of themes and contrasts to explore down the road but also waiting to see if I can get help for a medical procedure I need that I don't have the money to pay for. I am also still unemployed and have little money.

By the providential kindness of the Lord I have a roof over my head and am well-fed (in fact I need to exercise off some of the not-starving parts of me). I have scrounged up just enough funds that, Lord willing, by the time I finish a couple of little free-lance projects I shall at least be able to keep a roof over my head through to next year but that means I have to work my tail off.

I am also working diligently on my 24 preludes and fugues for solo guitar. By now I suppose I make no secret (not that anyone would necessarily have a reason to care) that one of my goals in composing preludes and fugues for solo guitar is to create music that can be useful in liturgical settings. I have even been able, thanks to support from church musicians and pastors, present a few of my works from the cycle during offering and communion. I am covering the stylistic and regional waterfront. Some of the preludes and fugues owe much to Luigi Legnani or Haydn. Still others owe everything to J. S. Bach. Still others are inspired by Shostakovich, Bartok, Hindemith, Durufle, even Messiaen. Ellington, Brubeck, and Monk have been inspirations. The closing prelude and fugue of the entire cycle is an homage to the pavans and sacred choral music of William Byrd. I've littered hymns throughout the cycle, sometimes in obvious ways, at other times in deliberately light-hearted ways.

I am planning on writing some more guest posts in a few other settings, which requires some attention. Meanwhile, I wait to find out how things will go for cataract removal surgery. It's grimly amusing that I have only ever needed major eye surgery at points in my life when I'm unemployed with no money!

There are so many things I would have liked to have written about by now but I realize that a mixture of joblessness with depression can kill the writing impulse. I had hoped by now to have read quite a bit more of Schlatter's commentary on Romans than I have! I had hoped by now to have written at some length about contemporary critical (that is to say negative) reactions to Haydn's music and the significance I see in this on the subject of changing musical forms and styles.

I believe that for contemporary composers so many people have broken rules and forms and styles that Leo Brouwer is correct to say the next big musical revolution we will see is fusion. This would not even be the first time such a consolidation of styles has occurred. In the West the old style and new style in the Baroque era eventually gave way to style gallant, roccoco, and all that stuff that was eventually synthesized into the Classic style proper.

The trouble I find with a lot of music and musical approaches is not so much that there's no good music. There's all sorts of wonderful music now. I admit I haven't listened to pop music with much attention since, oh, the last Portishead album and before that Weezer's Maladroit and before that Bjork's Vespertine (her last good album, in my opinion). There's a lot, historically speaking, that has not particularly changed about popular music in a lot of ways since, really, Tin Pan Alley. I think that's a good thing, but the rate of stylistic change is perceived as being so much faster than it actually is that a lot of taste-dividing issues become cultural rather than strictly musical. Why should I listen to "new country" when I can listen to "old rock and roll" (no, not the Bob Seger kind!)? But I ramble ... .

I am working on compiling a whole bunch of thoughts on biblical texts and on charismatic/cesssationist debates and why I increasingly find both views to be problematic. There's a great deal of polemic made in bad faith by both sides. Now in terms of practice and advocacy I can't say I'm "charismatic" at all now but I don't see cessationism as viable and a lot of the problems have to do with what I consider to be gross misrepresentations and question-begging on the part of both sides about certain offices and gifts. Since the blogosphere has erupted with ruminations about Driscoll's claims to spiritual superpowers I want to eventually address that and concerns I have about that stuff. But I need more time to compile and organize my thoughts on those subjects--I should say here that my concerns are not strictly about Driscoll alone but will represent my reservations about lay Christian counselors in general (i.e. people with no competencies in psychological research or training). I don't think the Team Pyro sort of screed is a useful contribution to such a discussion because lazy prooftexting seems to be what MacArthur fans are good at. I'll grudgingly grant MacArthur himself can exposit biblical texts but as an amillenial partial preterist I'll probably never got on board with his dispensationalism. But I ramble.

Particularly alert readers with long memories will notice I haven't gotten back to that project about Hell, either.

In the midst of all this I am trying to see what I can scrounge up for job leads, attending church (which should be more often these days than I've been actually accomplishing), and tackling all sorts of "real world" concerns. One of those concerns is getting everything in order for my first published composition. Lord willing, by year's end, I'll be a published composer. It's a modest achievement at every level but a special one to me since I have been playing guitar for some twenty-one years and have been composing as a hobby for nearly that long.

A few of you readers and lurkers have sent me links to a few things that I have found enjoyable, interesting, or exasperating. I will see if I can at times muster up the will-power to write about some of that stuff. :)

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