I write a lot of lists. Lists of movies to watch with my girlfriend, lists of songs to record and re-record, lists of things I need to do in order to get my insurance to cover the doctors I need to see in this godforsaken country, lists of music to listen to, or listen to again, or lists of the best music I have heard in the last six months or the last year or the last week. Lists of chores, lists of recipes I want to try, lists of smells that make me nostalgic. Some lists are more abstract--painters that have informed how I try to write lyrics or how I want my music to feel in a pseudovisual sense, or general lists of inspiration while I try to complete this task or the other. Right now I am writing for strings, specifically, for string quintet. Who will be playing in this quintet, I don't know yet. All I know is that these arrangements that I am working on have become the backbone for a new approach to a lot of the songs that I have been writing, and so far this approach feels really good--it feels new, even.
And so I have been listing things--pieces of music that I want to listen to again in order to figure out how they work, or painters that I want to look at while I am in the composition process, or movies that I am currently obsessed with. A lot of Jonny Greenwood's film music has textural riddles in it that I want to solve, without actually ordering the scores and seeing how he notates things. Conversely, Philip Glass's string quartets are so beautifully self-contained and so simple on the surface that delving into their scores helps me understand what makes them structurally complex, beyond the simplicity of the notation. Bill Forsyth's movie Local Hero is so funny and bittersweet that it makes me wonder how he did it while maintaining an air of naturalism. Stanislav Zhukowsky's paintings of winter have such a nice light in them; it makes me wonder if there is a quality I can imbue my music with that will have a similar emotional effect. And so on.
So--listmaking. I recommend it, if you're the sort of person who doesn't necessarily hoard objects, but tries, against the ceaseless pull of memory, to hoard the perceptions of other people's works of art.