100 Days of Writing Music Update #1

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I’m nearly 1/4th of the way through my 100 Day Project (100 Days of Writing Music), so today I thought I’d update you on how it’s going so far.

Observations:

  • It’s been easier than I thought it would be!

Although I’ve been extremely busy lately (on a stretch of 25 work days in a row 🙄), it’s been easier than I expected to keep up with this challenge. I think that there are three major factors in this:

  1. It’s work I really enjoy doing.
  2. Public accountability - it’s easier to skip a day if no one’s watching.
  3. Manageable length - 8 measures is an easy length to accomplish.

One of my challenges for myself this year was to show my work more, and this is a pretty perfect way to do it, in terms of fitting a new habit into my life.

  • It feels great to be keeping a consistent daily creative habit.

Showing up every day to write, even a little bit, is so helpful in “turning the faucet on”, so to speak. I haven’t worried about not being able to think of anything good, because ideas come more easily when I’m accustomed to coming up with new ones every day. Also, especially with the quantity of this project, I don’t feel much pressure to make each one great (as I do when a deadline or performance is coming up), I just listen to my mind and let the notes flow. It’s been really good practice in turning off my inner editor.

Although, I don’t mean to make it sound super easy - keeping habits is hard, especially when you’re busy. In a way, being tired is helpful because it prevents me from overcomplicating things when I just don’t have the energy.

  • Whole pieces (shorter ones, at least) get finished more quickly than I thought.

When I started this project, I thought that I would like writing a different 8 measure snippet of something every day, and accumulating tons of variety. I have been experimenting with playing different styles, but much of the time, there’s a resolution waiting to happen, or I’m just excited to continue forward with the same piece. I found this happening early on - during the second week I wrote a short piece about anxiety over 6 consecutive days when I was feeling particularly anxious (coming back to work right after spring break, of course). Or, if I start a piece and leave it at 8 measures, it’s still waiting there for me to finish it later, so I'm excited to have these snippets on hand for later. 

  • Planning ahead isn’t necessary.

I have never been much of a long-term planner (short-term planner, 100% yes!), so I’m not surprised that my daily composition approach isn’t that way, either. My favorite way to compose is to go along and just listen to what I hear as the next logical step (which takes trial and error along the way) - I am not a person who has the form and structure all planned out, and not usually a person who writes conventional chord progressions. (Maybe that should be a challenge to myself soon - keep it really simple.)

LISTEN ON SOUNDCLOUD

I’m starting to record these pieces to put on Soundcloud, but this busy season has slowed my pace considerably! A couple of them are now posted here, but look for more soon - I'll do more on Monday when I'm at MacPhail with a nice piano!

You can follow along on my Instagram here, with the hashtag #100daysofwritingmusic, and watch Instagram Stories for videos of me playing them.

Have you ever taken on a specific daily creative challenge? If so, tell me about it in the comments!

Rebecca Hass

Pianist and composer