It will be loud, though
I often write at the Connecticut Muffin near my apartment in Brooklyn. It’s not my preffered workspace, but such is life with a toddler who won’t stand not to be playing with you if you’re in the apartment (despite the loving attention of his wonderful grandmothers). My poor study lies fallow…
I end up rather conspicuous, hunched over large manuscript paper with my automatic pencil and straightedge. I suppose it’s natural that some would be curious and come over and ask me what I’m doing. The first question is usually, “Are you writing music?”. I’m always tempted to say something snarky like, “No, I’m scrambling eggs,” but I never do. I just say yes, which is in almost every case enough to elicit awe-struck bulging eyes or a “wow….”. It reminds me just how few people there are that actually do this (not composing – but specifically writing notes on staves). I think, if the guy at the table next to me were sketching designs for a building, I’d feel the same way. It wouldn’t matter whether it were any good. I’d just be amazed to see someone with those faculties at work, because they’re so mysterious to me.
The usual follow-up is, “What kind of music do you write?”. This is a tricky on for me. How do I explain what I do to the (probably) uninitiated? “Classical,” to most people, means Mozart. “Electronic” means Ace of Base. “Experimental” means nothing, except perhaps the vulgar stereotype of the performance artist wearing scuba gear and angel wings and peeing on the American flag while reciting Shakespeare sonnets in binary code. Give me a minute or two, and I can explain it pretty well, but I feel that that’s giving them more than they bargained for. I usually end up just telling them in very broad strokes about the piece I’m currently working on, often no more than the instrumentation. Again, this tiny piece of information is met with wows and impressed expressions. (I wish it was this easy to impress audiences and my peers).
In any case, today, it was an elderly woman who asked me the above questions. I explained that I was working on a piece for 3 drumsets and electonic sounds, to b played in the Make Music NY festival next month. Her response: “It’s not that metal, is it?”. I assured her it wasn’t metal, and she said, “Good. That stuff’s just too much. No one wants to hear that.” I smiled. She asked when the concert is, and then said she’d try to come. I really hope she does, although if so, I may feel compelled to lower the threshold on my limiter. No one wants shouts of “Keep it down!” during a premiere.