I started on this kind of contrapuntal line in the second violin last time, without giving it backing from the other instruments, and I realized when I got back to it today, that I wanted it to really stand out. So I actually give the first violin a few measures rest, and I decide to give the viola and cello an accompanying line that is plucked instead of bowed. This means that the line will really come out. I remember studying 18th century counterpoint and especially Bach’s inventions and fugues, and I try to imitate his style a little bit when I write the next line, which I give to the first violin.
It’s always fascinating to try and pin a stroke of inspiration on what’s going on. Easter just happened, and I was part of a women’s choir that sang “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (which was written by Bach), so the Bach-ian lines are pretty fresh in my mind from singing that piece. But since Bach is one of the ostensibly most accomplished composers of all time, I don’t feel like it can ever be wrong to get inspiration from his music. One of the many things I admire about him is his sheer size of work he left behind. He wrote so much music. His music also typically really sounds like his own, which means that he refined his own musical language in all the pieces he wrote. He has this lovely way with working from one chord to the next, and it feels like it fits, and you come to expect it a certain way. One of the things we probably all like to hear in music is some kind of predictability, and also some surprising elements. So a piece that starts out with inspiration from Philip Glass, and continues with inspiration from J. S. Bach, I hope will still sound like my music to the listener.
So after the first violin finishes the answer to the first line, the viola gets the response. I have to go now, but I’ll probably let the cello answer to that line, and then let them all play something together, which sounds like it belongs, with the right blend of anticipation and surprising elements.