A new space

Its always good to mix things up a bit.  My wife is a big fan of systematic reorganization, whether it’s furniture, closets (time to change out summer for fall!), what have you.  The order brings her calmness.  I am not this way about most things. Order, for me, is hard to come by, no matter the circumstances, activity, or location, so I have learned to find calmness in action and production rather than location or circumstance.  In any event, my lizard brain, the Resistance, and the minions that they rally have provided the hardest tests to accomplishment than any other factor.

In August, we moved; up, it’s fair to say. We have space – lots of it.  Garden, bedrooms, basement, the works.  And it’s quiet, compared to the crowded, but charming, city living in which we spent the last year.  “With the quiet, it will be a good atmosphere for composing,” said our landlord.

Studying the technique of creativity, you hear a great deal about the routine of the workspace: the same action, under the same conditions, creating a habit, a ritual. Habits seem to be the key – all the great ones had them; Google Beethoven and his coffee beans.  So what do you do when your workspace changes?

I had great spaces in Boston. In the several places we lived, there was a room completely to myself, surrounded by scores and reference books.  I had a beautiful harpsichord-shaped Ethan Allen desk that my wife found on Craigslist for a steal.  My keyboard and desk fit perfectly next to each other and my desktop was always at the ready, connected to my keyboard to record my improvisations or dig in with Finale. When I had time to use it, it was great.

On Bachstraße, I had a piano. Beautifully out of tune, it was always ready to dance. Not as flexible as having a MIDI keyboard, but it stretched my fingers and my ears.

Then I had none of it, and wrote 90 minutes of opera with just my ears and a laptop in less than two months.  Lots of it on a plane, even more with my wife falling asleep on the couch at her parents’ house while watching West Wing and Sherlock on Netflix.

Now I have quiet (for the moment), a small MIDI keyboard that my wife also found on the German version of craigslist for a steal and the knowledge that I don’t really need any of it to write a significant amount of music in a short time.

Why is this important?  Maybe it isn’t.  Maybe, however, there isn’t a perfect set of circumstances under which the muse can make contact, or whatever, and that in and of itself is important.  For me, at least.

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