• Jessica T. Carter

Compositional Process


If I'm being completely honest with myself, calling myself a composer is something that took me a while to get use to. Even know, I have to pinch myself. To be in the position that I'm in where I have the opportunity to study music composition under someone who's work I have always admire is the one of the greatest blessings in my life thus far. As such, it comes with a great deal of pressure to, in a sense, remain worthy of the opportunity.


One of the thing that I've been reflecting on lately is my compositional process. Writing music when you're inspired is something that almost anyone can with musical talent or ability can do. It's forming it in a a habit to write music when one is not particularly inspired or up to it, that is much more difficult to establish. For me, my process has definitely changed since studying composition in graduate school because I started off as that aspiring composer who would have that ideas for music but process in developing those ideas into a piece. Recently, I've come to the realization that due to the way that my mind works, it takes me much more time to conceptualize a piece of music before putting it on paper. That can mean anything from an idea, to a title, to a theme, and even to a full developmental section.


I, undoubtedly, have to start off with a pretty solid idea before I can do anything else. Currently, I'm working on two larger projects: a song cycle and a concerto. For both of these works my process mimicked itself in the beginning and that was on only having a clearly defined idea for not only what the piece would sound like, but its general path. Because of this, I had to force myself to sit with the piece conceptually before writing anything down. I very rarely try to map out an entire piece from start to end before doing so, which is not something I could say about my process prior to studying in my graduate program. My latest major work, Piano Sonata No. 3, was written according to this idea though not completely consciously and the results where astounding. Because of this, I look forward to what I can create from here on out.



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