Works list updates

Those of you who keep a semi-regular eye on this site will have noticed that the Works List changes fairly drastically from time to time. Works appear to mutate, disappear, and even reappear. This is not entirely capricious.

Being an unpublished composer is a bit like inhabiting a permanent waiting-room: we occupy our time with current projects, but our name is sometimes called and we are obliged to put those things aside and concentrate solely on some specific task for a duration. (Published composers expect to have the luxury of a steady flow of work–it is probably the one unarguable benefit). Plans for works are, consequently, often shelved, and, in the interim, change, become more or less ambitious, acquire or lose features, and/or instruments. Even get amalgamated, or disassembled …or what I call scavenged.

So my Works List is a living thing; a metamorphosing snapshot of my intentions at any given time. It could be argued that works by rights should only appear once completed, but, realistically, they tend to only get completed if someone takes an interest in them, and for that to happen they have to announce themselves. Hence the proliferation of [in preparation] notices.

Likewise, many of these Listed Works were written in haste, and lack a final finessing. Just as often, I had initially set myself a compositional challenge that transpired to be beyond my ability at that moment and the work got completed, but in a compromised form. Richard Toop once characterised me as being a bit like Boulez, in that many of my pieces seem to exist in pro tempore form. He was (unusually) mistaken: I have no interest in provisionality. What my pieces are, so annoyingly often, is unfinished. Ergo the several [currently withdrawn for revision] tags. My longterm plan once I ceased full-time work, having reached what is laughably called retirement age, was to return to many of the pieces that fall into these categories and definitively complete them. Essentially a good notion, were it not for my to-do list of new pieces becoming ever-longer. Of course, I count myself very fortunate to be in this position, but my back-catalogue constantly nags. What I have discovered as I tentatively embark on such auto-archeology is that these ‘improvements’ can take many forms, the least of which is a quick touching-up. Unfortunately for my time-management, many transform themselves in the process of reexamination, and oblige an entire rewrite; or change form, and with it title, becoming a new work entirely, like my String Quartet.

I use my Works List therefore as a Tracker of these continuous evolutions–in fact, I have just completed such an update. It is my intention, by the time I go terminally silent, to have brought my entire oeuvre into definitive form–hopefully, a realistic proposition. Bear in mind, then, that a piece vanishing from the WL does not mean that it is gone, or repudiated, or lost; merely that it is undergoing a metamorphosis, either into a better version of itself or something else entirely. I am far too parsimonious to ever abandon material entirely. I can always provide an update on the condition of any absented piece–and indeed, such an enquiry might well prompt me to restorative action.