There’s an office dynamic unique here in “The Box” which goes something like this: Frank and I disagree on everything, Molly falls somewhere in the middle, and Trevor Hunter is the dark horse—nobody can predict what his stance will be until it’s declared, except when it comes to microtonality which he’s gung-ho about. By the way, our office really is a box—an open space that the four of us share—so impromptu discussions easily erupt throughout the workday. It’s our inimitable way to come up with new content and ideas for the publication. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s really a collective procrastination tactic.
Yesterday, something rare occurred while Molly was out dealing with Counterstream Radio issues: Frank and I agreed on something with Trevor playing dissenter. Apparently our coworker is indifferent when it comes to titling his compositions, an idea that Frank and I adamantly deplored. I went so far as to say that I can’t even begin working on a new piece until I have a title in mind. Frank seconded the motion. We chalked it up to our tendencies to approach our work conceptually. In my case, I try to provide listeners with some insight as to how the piece was put together—not via expansive program notes, which I hate and often don’t read, but with a few choice words strung together and slapped onto the cover page of the score. A good title can be like the shiny bits on a fishing lure, attracting unsuspecting passersby and potentially converting them into listeners.
I understand the rationale of skipping the title all together so—as is often cited—the music can speak for itself, but titling is one of the greatest joys known to man. Sometimes I wonder if I only compose for the sole reason to beget that awesome title I just came up with. I know I’ve been riding this title-your-work high horse for a while now, but I do think it’s an important part of doing the work. Without a title, a composition is somehow incomplete in my book. For those of you out there who get stumped when it comes to titling, I’ll gladly offer my expertise pro bono. Your next brilliant, life-changing title is only an email away.