I was in conversation recently with some other writers about what can be learned from working across artistic disciplines. Then I came across this from Philip Glass’s fascinating new autobiography Words Without Music about how composing for the theater was vital to the development of his work:
“The theater suddenly puts the composer in an unexpected relationship to his work. As long as you’re just writing symphonies, or quartets, you can rely on the history of music and what you know about the language of music to continue in much the same way. Once you get into the world of theater and you’re referencing all its elements — movement, image, text, and music — unexpected things can take place. The composer then finds himself unprepared — in a situation where he doesn’t know what to do. If you don’t know what to do, there’s actually a chance of doing something new.”
So exciting. This makes me want to call up my visual artist friends and propose a project. Or throw myself at the mercy of some musicians or sculptors. Or… I don’t know what to do!