When you compose, do you start with the form or with the content? Do you decide on the structure before you gather materials? Do the materials suggest a structure to you or vice versa?
I've never been so good at structure and I really need to do something about this. I wonder if there are any good books on musical structure? Maybe I should try to write some stuff with historical structures. Not sontata form, though. When I was at Wesleyan, I realized that I wrote everything in sonata form and stopped doing that, but I didn't really replace it with any other structures, just sort of trying to intuit things for every piece.
What pieces are best to study for cues into form and structure? I've been thinking of looking at John Cage's Square Root pieces, something my supervisor has encouraged.
But I think I should also get a book. Back in my miss-spent youth, I thought I wouldn't need to know anything about non-electronic music because the world was shiny and new and out with the old and in with whatever I was doing. So I didn't pay a lot of attention in some of my classes. Much like when I was 17, and similarly had an idea that I would never need to know statistics.
So, due to a lack of diligence in my studies, I'm totally unclear on how this works at all, really. I imagine that it's like having a bunch of plastic boxes, like you use for food storage. And in each one, there's a different sort of food. Each like a course of a fancy meal. So they all go together, but they're all separate. However, they probably have ingredients in common like olive oil. Or pumpkin both in the pie and the soup. However, this metaphor is crap, as it's non temporal. Pumpkin soup is a gestalt. It doesn't change over time. Maybe it's like stanzas in a poem or chapters in a book? I imagine that stanza length is decided a head of time, whereas chapters seem to stem from the content that fills them?
Is it ironic not to have a structure of understanding to apply to structure?