Thoughts on My Work as a Composer

Much of the coherence of the language we use to describe what we do in art has gone missing. I am really trying to find my way back to that. Our age released the flood of information. It forces us to swim out past our own borders. But outside them we can often only create something superficial.

I think of extremities in music, and how far removed they are from the harmony of the musical microcosmos, a word made current by Bartók. I think of the language of art as opposed to the language we use as individuals. I think of world music pitted against abstract music.

Mostly art grows out of some notion of structure. A piece of music we are about to write grows out of the blueprint we set for it. In creating a piece, we are trying to make each element of our music tell its own story. That is not easy. But in the difficult and slow process of composition each element finds its way to the light, becoming nearly complete.

Working with other artists never fails to fascinate me. At first the differences and distances seem large, but then as we come closer, we notice how deep common experience goes. Strong ideas can take on a hundred forms, yet remain one idea.

Strong ideas spring from a source, and go on to cross riverbeds with others. More and more, the search for those sources has become the main impulse for my work. You might say that's too one-sided, but the more I reduce to the essentials, the more tributaries appear in my music.

Robert Wildling, edited and translated by S. Ferguson.