More about the IHML

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: "Dude, Mike, how come you spend so much time writing about writing songs, instead of just writing songs? No wonder you're not getting anything done!"

Well, you see, friends, in response to the first part of your question, not only does this blog exist to combat writer's block, but it also serves to combat a condition called DDD, or Day-job Doldroms Disorder: a vegetative state that occurs when one is left to one's own devices at a summer job whose most challenging aspect is to spit out the enormous phone greeting as quickly as possible when the phone rings.
In the intervals when the phone isn't gurgling I would basically just sit and stare at the wall if it weren't for this trusty blog. (Incidentally, why can't they replace this pathetic, dying bird chortle with something pleasurable to hear, like a sultry voice saying "You have a call, gorgeous!") This blog keeps my mind focused on music instead of on kissing up to rich people. They armed me with a computer at their peril, that's the way I look at it.

With regard to the second part, ah, but I am getting so much done. I am so close to the end of Up On The Orange Moon that I can taste the double barline. And, I spent all day Saturday sitting on my butt in Salem, where we were shooting the film, listening to piano music. I analyzed the Dicthterliebe song cycle by Shumann, wherein I discovered many juicy tidbits. Schumann wrote those songs in the 1850s, when Romanticism was the fashion in Europe. It's encouraging to know that those old pianists spun such inventive textures out of such simple simple chords. That takes a lot of the pressure off. Then I listened to a bunch of Moussourgsky's late piano songs. They were written later in the 19th century, I think in the 1870s. Anyway, his songs are insane and very difficult to analyze. So I gave up trying to figure out the harmonies and just paid attention to the textures. I don't think I'll be writing anything all that complicated, but it helps to see what's out there. Then I listened to some Satie. My favorite pieces of his are the Sports and Divertissiments from 1914. They are a little book of short, elegantly calligraphed pieces which accompany some illustrations about the upper crust at play. They're very cute pieces, and surprisingly easy to play for how inventive they are. I found a recording of them and flipped out because I didn't think one existed. They are sadly absent from most recordings of Satie's music that I've come across. But they further reenforce my conviction that good music needn't be complicated. So while I didn't get much writing done, I did get some great ideas which I jotted down. Soon as I get home from this...erm...job, I'm going to get to work.

Why, you might then ask, if I was filming in Salem, did I have so much time to sit and listen to music? Well, that, my friends, is for another post. In the meantime: more later.