Radiddlepa composition stats

My new year’s resolution for 2014 was to write Radiddlepa. Composition is difficult for me, but for whatever reason Radiddlepa went fairly smoothly and I debuted the piece in Devon, England in July. The resolution worked!

I wrote Radiddlepa over the course of an 8-month period, during which I practiced almost exclusively tsukeshime, including lots of experimentation with new sounds and techniques. I’d search until I found a rhythm or technique I liked, I’d record it on video or audio, set it aside, and then continue searching. Once I had a large set of recordings, I then grouped them together based on the bachi (or lack of bachi) required; both hands, one hand and one “take” (bamboo) bachi, one “take” and one mallet, two “ho” (magnolia) bachi, two “hinoki” (cypress), one “take” and one “hinoki” in one hand and a mallet in the other, etc. These groupings became the rough sections of the piece and from here I enjoyed a long stretch of very technical practice, trying to figure out how to get between the sections and what was indeed possible to perform. The final stretch involved structural practice and struggling to improve the still-finicky techniques.

During all this, I carefully labeled every chunk of my practice, so I now have a record of how many minutes I spent practicing Radiddlepa, from inception to debut. For the first time with this composition, I know how many hours of drum time it took to write the piece. These hours don’t include the time composing on paper or reviewing and organizing video footage, probably about equal to the time on the drum.

Here are the stats.

Start date — Oct 13, 2013
Debut — July 6, 2014
Days of practice involving Radiddlepa prior to debut — 109
Total hours on drum prior to debut — 166.85
Average hours per practice session — 1.5
Total “idea recordings” from experimentation phase — 114

When I first tallied the total, I was surprised it’s not more than 166.85 hours. Although that’s a big chunk of time, considering it was completed over an 8-month period, it doesn’t seem like much. And looking at my 10,000 hours of practice graph (below), Radiddlepa doesn’t even register.

This tells me that the limiting factor to my daily practice hours is something more fundamental than practice topic or inspiration. Even when totally committed to an exciting new project, I average about an hour a day of drum time. To be honest, it feels like that might be the limit of my creativity. Beyond about an hour a day (and the other hour or two of research/prep/planning time required to make that hour effective), I run out of ideas for how to get better. It will be interesting to see if I can become more creative toward this end in 2015. Perhaps another new year’s resolution?


One Response to “Radiddlepa composition stats”

  1. Margaret says:

    Fascinating to know how Radiddlepa came to be. Popular history of “great” composers indicates a bimodal distribution in compositional fluency, some like Mozart writing as if taking dictation, and some like Brahms sweating blood over every note. It’s encouraging to think that ease in writing (or lack of it) doesn’t correlate with merit in output. :)
    Q: Do you track your shamisen practice? What are your thoughts on that?

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