Sometimes an idea takes a long time to tease out to the point where it is complete enough to plan a project around. Other times, the pieces fall into place quite rapidly.
I've been wanting to write some music again. While working "Nutcracker" that desire got stronger; I was listening to Tchaikovsky's masterful employment of the symphony orchestra and felt inspired to get wrangling with those elements of tone color and combination again. And then I listened to the Oakland Symphony and it pretty much decided me.
I've had a few vague projects in mind for a while. One being a secular oratorio in echo of Hayden's great "The Creation"; one that explores instead the progression, excitement, and mystery of our scientific understanding of the universe and its origins. Other ideas have been more inchoate.
When I opened my notebook tonight, the only two germs of idea was either to write something, or several somethings, to two requirements picked out of a hat; as in "write something in WALTZ time featuring PIANO," or "Write something in KLEZMER style suggesting a WASHER-DRYER COMBO." Or, to write something featuring a solo instrument as a character in a story.
Then the pieces dropped into place. A fugue or maybe a duet...use the "Harper" melody I wrote a long time ago...older adventurer talking to young dreamer...took an arrow to the knee...
Unfortunately, the idea as it exists currently is a bit, um, ambitious. Not as much as a 3-hour oratorio, mind you! But what I'm seeing now is a piece of "program music" written for (synthesized) symphony orchestra, telling a story in four parts and lasting seven minutes (if not longer).
1) Adventure! Swashbuckling, epic battle stuff of the adventurer (the bassoon? tenor clarinet?) at his prime.
//arrow to the knee// (orchestral percussion)
2) "Oh, tell me of the road" A young would-be adventurer (flute? Oboe?) asks for stories. Becomes a duet/counterpoint.
3) On the road to adventure/the flute's story
4) Crisis, rescue/re-introduction of bassoon, finale
(5 -- love duet and waltz?)
From experience, this is 2-3 weeks of writing. I don't really have the time to delve into this now, but that might actually be an advantage; I could use the time developing the musical and harmonic ideas more completely instead of leaping into orchestral arrangement.