The Dickinson Cycle
I'm finally facing finishing a short cycle of Dickinson Songs, the first of which I wrote in the early 70's. Much has changed since then, duh, in fact one might say everything has. I have gone through some very intensive approaches to composition on every level and including every facet, and now none of them exist as a primary guide. All remain part of my understanding, and all present themselves when of value, but there is no pre- that is necessary or part of the working method for any present work. It's all more improvisational, or maybe more accurately more abstract: each note in relation to the last with no pre-planning. But now this last of the 3 songs, "I felt a cleavage", is throwing me back into older methods. Can I plan as an improvisational event?
I had originally planned 6 songs but got stopped after the first. Since then, I had thought to do a voice and guitar duet, then to change the concept and do an unaccompanied cycle, but harp was suggested recently and it works well. I have whittled down to three poems, two having been reworkings or revisitings by Dickinson and a third having nothing to do with the others. So now just "A thought went up", 'There's a certain slant of light," and "Cleavage."
A big problem with Dickinson is how many of the poems are formally and structurally identical. That's one of the major obstacles with this last setting: it is in so many ways a rehash of "A thought."