101 Words – 001

This is the first of a series of 101 posts each consisting of precisely 101 words. Inspired by Michael Beirut’s 100 Day Project and spin-offs such as Elle Luna’s collaboration with The Great Discontent, I’ve been toying with the idea of posting something on a daily basis for a while. Jeremy Keith’s 100 x 100 words got me interested in 100 words as a length for the texts. Taking about 30 seconds to read and 15 minutes to write, it’s a little easier to manage than a full 200 word Thomas Basbøll paragraph – perfect for an exercise such as this.

101 Words – 002

One of the things I’m curious about with this exercise is not so much whether I have it in me to string together 101 words each day (I’ve been doing exactly that for the past few months with entries to my personal journal), but rather what it’s like to write something that I know is going to be made public on a daily basis. I’m interested in seeing how the immediacy of sharing a thought or two each day will differ from carrying (and pursuing) those thoughts over a period of time and watching them coalesce into an essay or article.

101 Words – 003

Carrying thoughts around for extended periods of time can fill a lot of mental space. At a certain point it becomes unbearable. One just wants to get the thing done. At the same time going the distance sometimes leads to insights that make it all worth it.

Stravinsky apparently only thought about his compositions while he was in his workroom, something I’ve never been able to achieve with music. It is only when making drawings that my attention is fully occupied with what I have in front of me as long as I’m doing it and ends as the activity does.

101 Words – 004

I’ve been wondering why it is that there is no equivalent in music to something like a Luis Mendo sketch. Janáček comes to mind with his notations of speech melodies: A delight in observing the everyday without dramatizing it – an aspect that Milan Kundera discusses in Testaments Betrayed. Eavesdropping with a Master: Leoš Janáček and the Music of Speech covers in detail the 75 notebooks he filled over the last four decades of his life and subsumed into his operas. In music it’s apparently not possible for such notations to be formed into sketches that stand alone in their own right.

101 Words – 005

Somewhat like making a drawing, these texts have my attention while I’m working on them. I do however often have an idea of what the text will be about, a seed before I sit down to actually write. That’s not the case today. I’ve started writing without knowing where the letters will lead. There are a number of things I could write about, but I’m not up for any opinions, connections, or insights today.

The whitespace of a Cezanne canvas, blank and at the same time not.
Through the window the sound of a conversation and distant traffic on the tarmac.

101 Words – 006

Just three weeks before his eightieth birthday,
On this day 23 years ago,
He moved on.
New ideas don’t scare me as the old ones do, said John.

Could music be
a form of Art, rather than repeating music’s memory forms?
That was the question Feldman felt he Granted us permission to ask.
Enquiry, Duchamp, Satie.

Joy, open sound Optimism.
Hexagram happeNing.

Conceptual koan, or Apotheosis of listening?
Graphically engaging, now an almost mainstream
Emblem of how one might approach present-day creative life.

101 Words – 007

Today I caught up on the two most recent epiodes of Inquisitive – a podcast on in which guests get to talk about their favourite albums*. Dr Drang talked us through The Beatles’ Revolver and Bryan Irace enthused about Radiohead’s Kid A. Similar albums in their (studio) experimentation and both pivotal for the bands that made them. Radiohead’s The National Anthem as a counterpart to the Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows?

*A fascinating series (kicked off with Myke and Faith Korpi talking about The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds) – my only wish is that there could be more musical examples woven into them.

101 Words – 008

Does the physical comfort of how we write affect the style of what we write? That was the question put by an article I read this morning. “If I had the right chair, I’d be like Mozart”, Morton Feldman once quipped. I’ve been wondering whether part of the reason that I’ve gotten more into writing texts over the last few years is that I have highly polished writing tools at my disposal (Drafts and iA Writer) that are a pleasure to use. The software available for music notation isn’t anywhere close yet, although I have found some recent inspiration in Paper.

101 Words – 009

My favourite discovery looking through contributions to the TGD/Elle Luna 100-Day Project, has been Enrique BarriosFaces from El Paso. Drawn on matchbooks photographed against the background of the various tables on which they have been sketched, they also include short stories in which the (often tragic) semi-fictional destinies of the characters portrayed are told.

Barrios describes the time-out of making these daily drawings as his “little mental yoga”. That reminds me of Luis Mendo: “You find yourself more in the moment, closer to yourself, more relaxed and less anxious, much happier than before you started drawing”.

101 Words – 010

This afternoon I stopped on the bridge to make a quick sketch of the tracks that I pass each day on my way to work and back. My father-in-law stood on that same bridge as a child waiting for the steam trains to pass and envelop him in smoke. There’s still some kind of charm in those old machines, there’s one that passes close to our apartment each Sunday sounding the most beautiful whistle. All I was treated to on the bridge though were pungent diesel fumes.

In the foliage beside the tracks police with dogs searching for something.

101 Words – 011

Today I took the step of making public, a piece that I began nearly two years ago. Zwitscher–Maschine is a “twitteropera” – a piece for soprano and piano quartet in which the “libretto” consists of 120 tweets collected from various sources – a kind of portrait of the internet. My original plan was to create a section a day for 120 consecutive days. Things turned out quite differently though. The sections took far longer to create than anticipated and halfway through the composition I decided to start all over again: A twitter piece the creation of which has been anything but immediate.