Excerpt from an interview
with Joanna Szymala,
by Aleksandra Adamska.
How do you compose?
It’s time-consuming, but a fascinating process. I try to write regularly. I start with an idea, and what the work is meant to convey. I try to outline the whole at the very beginning. I think about what will happen. Next I choose the instrumentation – the sound which will best serve the music. Then comes the toil, though it is also hugely absorbing and satisfying.
And how did it work in Continuum?
In Continuum I wanted to show continuity with sound. I wanted to examine continuous existence. That’s it! I don’t feel the need to justify in words what I compose. The language of music expresses more than words. Music speaks through its own sound, it speaks with itself. The lack of verbal description allows wider interpretation. It gives you freedom.
Every artist has a master. Who is yours?
Lutosławski and Stravinsky. I study their scores. You must always study masters. In painting students copy masters. It’s the same in music. To know the art you must dive into it. I don’t intend to copy them, but I do want to know them well.
Do you ever experience creative anxiety, where you compose something but keep wanting to make it more perfect? Continually improve, try to make it better?
I do. It’s difficult to finish perfecting a composition. You can always imporove. But you can’t improve infinitely. I try to keep a distance and common sense.
They say music is the expression of the composer’s self. What do you want to convey? What emotions do you try to express?
It’s complicated. I convey through music what I see and what I feel. It’s difficult to describe. If I could, I would probably be a poet, not a composer. The language of music exists to create mood, emotions, feelings. I don’t tend to communicate precise concepts and I don’t have precise references.