I've been thinking recently about other composers and the volume of work they produce. Even setting aside the obvious example of J.S. Bach, who was a veritable fountain of productivity, most well-known composers produced a considerable amount of output in their lives. I even have a composer friend in Denver who manages to compose major works on a regular basis.
And then there's me.
I have a fair sampling of small pieces posted here on April Afternoon, but not a large number, and no large-scale works. This is largely due to my perfectionism... in the past, I've tended to agonize over each note and never set pencil to paper until the entire piece was crystallized in my mind. This has resulted in me composing one to two small pieces per year... which is not enough.
So I've decided to embark on a new project: a song a day. The goal is to produce some kind of output each day, no matter what that looks like. It doesn't have to be a major work; it doesn't have to be for any specific instrumentation or in any specific style. It doesn't even have to be a song — but "song-a-day" sounds better than "piece-a-day" or "œuvre-a-day," I feel. At the end of each day, though, I want to be able to look at a completed piece of music, be it transcribed or recorded. By doing this I'm hoping to get past my perfectionism and merely learn to get things out of my head. I can sit down at the piano and improvise for three hours, but I never put any of those ideas down on paper because they aren't polished enough — well, no more. I can write a piano étude in an hour; why don't I write it? Write it and not look at it again for a while. After doing this for a period of time, the plan is to look back over what I've produced and see if any of it is deserving of expansion or development.
Of course, in real life my plan is not going to result in a song a day — I broke my streak on the second day because I got home late and there was just no time. I'm okay with that. And if I have a really good idea that needs more than a day's work to develop, I'm okay with that too. The "song-a-day" concept is there to inspire and motivate me for the time being. If it amounts to anything worthy, I'll be sure to share.