Another Way

Recently came across these words of Beethoven, relevant to my work because I’ve been listening to a lot of classical music as a kind of research into form:

“The working out in breadth, length, height and depth begins in my head, and since I am conscious of what I want, the basic idea never leaves me. It rises, grows upward, and I hear and see the picture as a whole take shape and stand forth before me as though cast in a single piece, so that all that is left is the work of writing it down.”

It’s well known that Beethoven made many sketches, and worked very hard on paper to develop his motifs and polish his compositions, so this statement is not strictly truthful. But it’s kind of inspiring, at least to me. On one level his terms are technical, because height and depth are harmony and length melody, and the same words could be used to describe the shape of artworks, but what I like are the emotional potentials—that “breadth, length, height and depth” can be images and feelings reaching toward what is possible. I sometimes try to plan things out, or project a work, but my method is such that it’s impossible, or seems so. The pour will always become something other than I try for. Deviation is constitutional. But on the emotional level there are other capacities.

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