Today was a heavily scheduled day - one class, three lessons and two meetings. All good and important stuff - but a lot of it. Ordinarily, I wouldn't even try to get any composing in on a day like today - but September is not an ordinary month. And one of my goals for the month is to find a way to get something creative done every day, no matter what.
I had a trick up my sleeve for a heavy day like this: a "blackout score."
Writer and artist Austin Kleon has been making blackout poems for years. He takes a newspaper article, finds what he calls an "anchor word", then draws a box around it. From there, he looks for other words in the article that he can relate to the anchor word - and blacks out the words he doesn't want with a Sharpie. A cool little profile about his work can be seen here:
So, I figured, why not try this with music. I took the last page of the (unfinished) last fugue in J.S. Bach's The Art of the Fugue, grabbed a Sharpie, and started blacking it out. My "anchor phrase" was Bach's musical signature (B-flat A C B-natural). I preserved more of the score than I expected to, but I removed many details that led to clear harmonic resolutions in an effort to destabilize the piece. For added interest, the pianist is asked to sing a few fragments of the score - a tribute of sorts to the idiosyncratic performance practice of Glenn Gould.
Here's my blackout score:
And here's Bach-Out.