Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Lap Around the Sun

May 19th is not an important day, per se. There are plenty of other anniversaries to keep track of. Weddings, birthdays, etc. But I first posted here a year ago with an over-long and somehow much-too-short-and-inadequate explanation of how I view the world.

As time has passed and we have traveled across Europe, this has turned into more of a 'what-I've-been-up-to' place rather than a place for reflection on serious things: philosophy, music. And I'm sure whoever is reading this is thankful for that.

Still, I thought I'd take a moment to examine ways I have or haven't changed in the past year.

I got married, which has been the best decision I've ever made. Obama was elected, at last restoring my confidence in my government and eliminating my frustration with politics; after the election, I was surprised by how much of my energy I used to devote to being angry with Bush & Co. Good riddance.

Still, the most striking feature of this last year has to be our move to Europe. It has been more eye-opening than I imagined it would. If one has a different view of the world after a two-week stint in another country, imagine how different it must be after nine months. And it's not only England: we live with people from New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Spain, and Syria. It also ties in with how much Teriann and I have traveled; more, certainly, than I have in the past, and more, probably, than I will. In the last year, we went to:

St. Thomas and St. John in June (for our honeymoon)
Las Vegas in August
London in September (to live here, no less)
Venice in October
Bath in December
Berlin in March
Ireland and Barcelona in April
Alsace (and coming up, Belgium) in May

Music. What an odd year this has been. I have said it often: grad school is not what I thought it would be. It's partly the peculiarities of the College, but it's probably also partly the difference between perceptions. When you're a kid, you always think you're a big kid. When you're a big kid, you look at younger kids and think, 'Is that what I used to look like?'

So, unlike the graduate student I thought I'd be, I don't have it all figured out. Music in the UK is so different from that in the US (they are, for example, seemingly unaware of post-minimalism, just as the US is seemingly unaware of spectral music). For instance, when I wrote the woeful 'THE Issue' post, my experience at the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium was still ringing in my ears; at that moment, the issue was detectable pulse or not? A year on, that seems like only half the issue.

I'm also still in the slump that started at the end of 2007. It's not that i haven't written music. I've written well over an hour of it since moving to London. I just haven't made it matter yet. It's all student music, and very little (if any) of it actually contributes to the body of music out there. I feel that sooner or later my slump will end; I can envision what a music that I might be satisfied with will sound like; I'm just not there yet.

And despite this swirling, murky, brilliant, uncertain year, I'm proud that not much of my worldview has changed; it suggests to me that those things I hold as essential as unmovable are in fact parts of me and not of my environment. I love Teriann. I believe that neither religion nor science fully understand the complexities of the universe or the human. I believe good and mediocre musics come in all forms: tonal and atonal, consonant and dissonant, simple and complex. I believe that art is my driving force.

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