How do you work? (Part 1)

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My Approach

Slow and Steady

I am a “rational artist”: I must know why I do what I do, and so I have formulated a clear artistic vision. Analytical by nature, making sense of my artistic motivations and processes is not only illuminating but gratifying. A big part of my work involves dissecting it, and my approach to fulfilling it can best be described as methodical.

For this reason, I tend to work slowly, thoroughly exploring every idea for a work (or part of a work) that comes to mind. The moment of inspiration is only the beginning to me. The joy of being an artist lies in the struggle between the inception and completion of the work: in the perfection of its concept, content and execution.

I think of an artwork as a microcosm of an artist’s life, containing the sum total of his experience up until the moment of its conception. My work then is the process of distilling into an artwork the content of my heart and mind, of concretising in a musical or poetic composition what I felt and thought at the moment of inspiration.

Realising a Response

My theme is the wonder of nature, especially as seen in pastoral beauty—at once my muse and subject. I may encounter a wild flower, or a creature, or survey a landscape from which I cannot withdraw my gaze, that will evoke an impression: a feeling that seems to require music or poetry to express. This is how a piece begins.

It appears first as an emotional reaction that transforms into a thought, which in turn becomes a poetic line or verse, or a musical idea. What follows for both music and poetry are fundamentally the same: I begin with a rough idea which I methodically develop, producing many variations until I find those that best fulfil my intentions.

Devils and Details

At any given time, I work on a specific piece in a project—a poem or a musical composition—rather than many at once. I must immerse myself wholly in the work, without distraction, that I may extract from it whatever artistic potential it possesses; I do not move on from a piece until there is nothing more I can do to improve it.

The least interesting part of the process to me is the “gear”: I only require that it helps and not hinder my work, and that it be of sufficient quality for my purposes. My tools, therefore, are few, simple and convenient: for music, I use a digital audio workstation and session musicians, and for poetry, a physical and digital notebook.

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