I think this is a Thing™.

With composers. That once you start writing music, you listen to less and less of it. Unless I need to listen to someone else’s music as a sort of recalibration of my ears and my mind, as a palate cleanser, or just to quiet my head and get back in touch with what I’m trying to say, I don’t much listen to other things for the hell of it anymore. When I do, it’s very often a small group of pieces that work well as touchstones for me.

I definitely don’t often go looking for unfamiliar music. It’s as if that part of my head is busying looking for unfamiliar things to write rather than to listen to. Every now and then, a new performer or composer may make themselves evident to me, but I seem to have dropped that once I started to compose, and I’m not the only person writing music who has said that. It’s just a thing I’ve heard more than a few times.

This is just still a new thing for me, and I’m constantly intrigued by the ways in which this new thing is altering my musical habits. I cannot recall the last time I put a piece of someone else’s sheet music on my piano and tried to learn it. I’ve got the music desk folded down and out of the way so I can put my laptop up there. When I first bought the piano, I started working on Grieg’s “The Last Spring,” always a favorite, and then Ginastera’s 2nd Argentine Dance (the easiest one), and then … I started writing. And that all got put on hold. “Bethena” sort of functioned as a nice break after I finished a piece, but then … back to writing. And back to working on my technique on my own stuff. The most I’ve done with other people’s music is to adapt it for my instrument: Haendel, Vivaldi. Now Keating on the organ. An inherently polyphonic instrument works well for her heavily layered structures.

This really does alter one’s whole relationship to one’s instrument.

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