All Happening Parallel
Michel van der Aa
Yeah, and normally before I start writing around the first note, I already determine what this version or what techniques I’m going to use.1 And I think a lot actually about the idea for the piece and what I want to communicate and I sort of make drawings of the controls of the piece without even being specific about music or pitch. And once I have a sort of formal idea, I start writing down notes.2 And if it’s a piece with film, I often sort of write a film script parallel for my score, or write film ideas in the score.3 But that it’s all happening parallel.4
And the nice thing about it is that I can — when I make a bigger piece, like an opera, I can determine for each of the scenes, which of these layers should be in the foreground, the musical staging on the film. And I can sort of play with that and move them back in forth, and really, the libretto and the idea — that moment in the piece determines how I scale these layers, which is something I can do in the creation process, and not something that has to be done afterwards when the score is finished.
So, it enables me to really think up these multimedia layers in a way I couldn’t do when I had to collaborate with an external director, and an external filmmaker. There’s also a risk there of course, because it’s always good to have people around you who ask you difficult questions, and who sort of mirror — put a mirror in front of your face.5 So, that’s why always with my operas, I make sure I have a very strong artistic team that I work with, and I have a lot of talks with the dramaturge and through the designers and through the conductor.6
So, I make sure that there are people around me who sort of ask me the difficult questions.