I love reading about how other composers worked – there’s always something useful to glean for you own practices, and there’s always something reassuring in seeing that, for pretty much everyone, the successful completion of a creative endeavor boils down to a lot of time, effort, and trial and error.
Among other things (including a whole lot of math talk), Xenakis describes his process for composing, which I share here along with my own explanations of what these terms mean:
- Initial conceptions: – “Intuitions” and ideas
- Definition of the sonic entities: – figure out the sounds you’re working with (orchestra? wind ensemble? no-input mixer?)
- Definition of the transformations: – “macro-composition” – in other words, big ideas, structure, logical framework, and order in which these things will happen
- Microcomposition – choice and detailed “fixing” of the relationships of these elements (basically macro composition but on a finer scale)
- Sequential programming of 3 and 4 – figuring out the schema and any patterns of the work in its entirety
- Implementation of calculations, verifications…and modifications – what you and I would call the demo/reading session and then making revisions based on what we heard
- Final symbolic result: – Finalizing the score
- Sonic realization: – Debut performance!As his book indicates (and as you may sense from this list), Xenakis was a very structured, analytical thinker. However, I think this process, terminology notwithstanding, could apply to a lot of creators in a lot of of fields.
(if you’re interested in the book, I’m not sure it’s public domain, but you know, Google…)