Although I have had significant experience making music with other people, the nature of the process has been one that is performative and interpretative rather than compositional. When I have worked in ‘composer’ mode, it has been a solitary occupation, worked on in relative isolation and then presented to the performers or audience. In this class, the act of collaborative music composition is one that is novel to me.
One way that I have conceived of this mode of working is harkening back to the use of google classroom by our reading teachers. Students worked on writing scripts together with rapid edits and changes that fed of each other’s creativity. Naturally in such an environment, notions of agency, independence and vision must be negotiated with grace and wisdom. These negotiations can be complicated when individuals have divergent knowledge bases and aesthetic sensibilities. For me, this has been a challenge. Often, I am not able to partake wholly in a conversation or planning due to my knowledge deficit. I reflect back on the issue of secret and hidden languages and certainly can see now why this topic was broached early on in the semester.
I am learning that I need to be proactive in asking for clarification or explanation for my own edification and to ensure that I am contributing in equal part. As we tell our students – “you are in charge of your own learning” – words that I need to target towards myself.
Compromises have been framed in terms of balancing ‘active music making’ versus a somewhat reactionary, or receptive approach. For myself, it requires a heightened sense of advocating for myself, and at times being content with waiting for a more opportune time to ask questions so as not to disrupt the pacing of the rehearsal. Lately, I have been musing on the aspect of musical roles as they apply to me. I reflect that at times I have retreated into a passive mode because of my perceived role as musician and not a technology versed creator. I anticipate that as my knowledge, familiarity and comfort level grow, I will gradually step into a more active role. When working in similar contexts in the future, I will need to recognize and leverage my strengths, such as logistics and planning for the good of the group. At the same time, I should recognize the unique qualities my team-mates bring and endeavor to learn as much as I can from them.