Resonant Thoughts: Jason Karp On Rhythm

“It’s a lot about rhythm and trying to find that rhythm and let the rhythm carry you
so you don’t feel like you’re having to push the whole time.
Let the rhythm carry you through the whole way.

It makes the rhythm bigger: when you have more than one person there it’s the collective rhythm that carries the group the whole way, and that’s very powerful.

I want them to feel that rhythm in sync: the legs, the arms, the breathing, the heartbeat. Because that’s what creates the entire feeling of the workout. I want them to adopt that feeling because that will serve them well when it’s time to race because they can lock into certain feelings…Even though we spend a lot of time on the watch and we want them to run a specific pace, to link that pace to how it feels—that’s a very important thing for a runner to adopt, to recognize, and to learn.”

– Jason Karp

Resonant Thoughts: John McPhee On Form, Structure, and Scale

“When you are close like this, nearing satisfaction on something that has taken a very long time do to, you don’t want to be tempted to decide too soon that you are done. You need to add time for a final assessment of the over-all form and structure before removing those bits of clay and polishing the detail.

In the effects of a change of scale…there is an artistic message that carries beyond sculpture and into other realms, like writing, and I’m still trying to figure out how best to summarize it, relating, as it does, to the idea that a piece of writing ought not to be planned for a given size but developed to the length most suitable to the material, and no farther.”

– John McPhee, Tabula Rasa

Compositional Principles

Capturing a live performance is worth more than re-playing a sample.

A clear process of making results in a clear experience of listening.

Have the music sounding coherent at each stage of its crafting. 

Seek sounds compelling on their own.

Pay attention to those (fleeting) moments the music takes you outside of itself.
How did you create the conditions for that to happen?

Re-use what you already have elsewhere in the piece before making something new.

Synthetic-made need not mean synthetic-sounding.

The acoustic is the richest starting point and a model for your ending point.

A beat of any type hems in the direction in which the music can move, so drum carefully.

If a collection of sounds work together, try to make several pieces with these sounds.

Use reverb, but without blurring the individual parts or their collective texture.

Effects are maximized at the exact threshold point where it’s hard to tell
if they’re being used, or how.

Melodies make great bass lines.

The shorter the sound, the more space it leaves for other ones.

Your choice of timbres is a key composing decision because which sounds signals as much as how the sounds are used.

Imagine composing as the secular equivalent of a devotional practice:
making something that invites closer attention.

If you’re convinced by the sound, maybe someone else will be too. 

Even the briefest of pieces can be arranged into a form, tidied up, and finished.
This is good practice for future (and longer) work.