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Paul Elwood
Interests: Music composition, jazz, performing, classical music, rock, literature, art
Recent Activity
One thing I love about a career in music is the continual discovery. Currently, I'm working on an opera with librettist/director Brian Luedloff based on Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew." A couple of years ago I was erroneously pontificating an end to opera. But, that was just a based on... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2017 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
Rollo May in "The Courage to Create" (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1975., p. 12), paraphrases Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Camus, and Sartre saying that "courage is not the absence of despair; it is, rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair." I don't know how often I have had... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2017 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
It’s important to the creative process to keep in motion. That is, write, compose, paint, sculpt, etc., every day. If the muse is to speak to one, one must be in a listening posture. That is, struggling with the material at hand day by day by . . . And... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2017 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
To be the Brook of the World is To move constantly in the path of Virtue Without swerving from it, And to return again to infancy. Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, trans. John C.H. Wu When I begin a piece of music or simply begin the day in early morning,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2016 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
I have to remind myself on a daily basis to be mindful about the reason one composes, paints, writes, etc. That reason is not necessarily the end product, but the work itself. Do I write for the end product? Yes and no. My impatience with the process sometimes betrays my... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2016 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
I have a watercolor by an uncle of mine long deceased. He gave it to me one afternoon in the '80s while visiting him in Denver, Colorado. I saw it sitting on a shelf without a frame and commented on it. He simply handed it to me and told me... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2016 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
I was cooking spaghetti for a couple of friends at an artist’s residency once. They showed up at my studio and deemed my efforts incomplete because a spaghetti strand, when thrown against the wall, wouldn’t stick. The spaghetti, they explained, was ready when the strand stuck to the wall. I... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2016 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
St. Jerome says that a pure wax which is soft and pliable enough to twist into whatever shapes we desire already contains within itself all that can be made from it, even if no one is actually making anything from it at the time. From “The Book of Divine Consolation”... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2016 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
The biggest obstacle to me is me. Aside from going into a lot of notes on this, all I can say is that procrastination and daily chances at resistance in my work all come down to me. Sometimes it's good to punt on one project in favour of another. If... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2016 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
The moon is full, and there is not a cloud in the sky. No stars are visible because of the deep white glow of the moonlight on the snow, which triples the ambient light and makes it possible to drive without headlights on these back roads. . . . Hunter... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2016 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
“ . . . what is the thing if it is devoid of all qualities? . . . what is meant by this unpalatable conglomeration of negatives is that in some mysterious way the thing is alive, it exists with a palpitating stillness. A dark, invisible radiance comes from it,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2015 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. This chestnut from G.K. Chesterton in his 1908 essay, "On Running After One's Hat" ( ) describes our perceptions of the inconveniences of life. In the same essay he talks about people who may... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2015 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
Why create a work of art? Especially if there seems to be no demand (or great demand) for the product. I was asking myself this as I composed today. I'm working on a double concerto for violin and cello with orchestra and it's a massive amount of work. Somedays, like... Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2015 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
When it blows, How noisy The mountain wind! But when it blows not, Where will it have gone? Waka translated by R.H. Blyth, Zen and Zen Classics, Volume One Sound moves in the neighborhood of 344 meters per second (m/s). Or 1130 feet per second; 770 miles per hour. Depending... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2015 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
In Chuang Tzu's "The Woodcarver," he describes an artisan who made a beautiful bell stand. Throughout the course of his narrative the artisan describes his process and finally says that, after much meditation on the project ". . . I went to the forest to see the trees in their... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2015 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
. . . toutes les gloire sont éphémères. Du point du vue de Sirius, les oeuvres de Goethe dans dix mille ans seront en poussière et son nom oublié. ". . . all glory is ephemeral. From the point of view of Sirius, the works of Goethe in ten thousand... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2015 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
I spent my evening working on parts for a new percussion ensemble piece with soprano soloist titled "Plutonic Winds" with text written especially for this project by one of my favorite all-time poets, Albert Goldbarth [Premiere, November 1, Iowa City, Iowa]. While copying I listened a few times through a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2015 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
Our modes of being are determined by our modes of becoming. In essence, becoming is being as that is the process we experience daily. I tossed this idea from German philosopher Oswald Spengler (1880-1936) at my students this morning in my Acoustics of Music class. I asked them what the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2015 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
I'm reading the text that Richard Wagner wrote for his opera Tristan und Isolde. Odd that I should learn a version of this Irish tale from an English translation of a German composer's rendering. Why bother when I'm not even a huge fan of Wagner and his operas? I'm reading... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2015 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
I’m teaching a course in the Acoustics of Music. A subject I only intrinsically understood as a musician. Sometimes in some conservatories and schools of music the course is taught by a physicist. I’m not a physicist, and the capability to work through the mathematics required in physics was baked... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2015 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
John Cage tells a story in his composition titled Indeterminacy. He describes composer/performer Christian Wolff playing a piece on the piano in an apartment with the window open. Sounds of traffic and boat horns obscured some of the sounds of the piano. “Afterward,” Cage relates, “someone asked Christian Wolff to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2015 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
L’influence des lignes principals est immense dans un composition. – Eugene Delacroix, Journals, January 25, 1847 "The influence of principal lines in a composition is enormous." I scrawled the above Delacroix quote in the composition I am working on this morning. I’ve been writing straight through the third movement of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2015 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
I’ve been working on a double concerto for violin, cello, and orchestra for the University of Northern Colorado orchestra, hopefully for a spring premiere. Lately I’ve chosen to put my creative energies into that, rather than into a daily blog, but will try to post at least once a week.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2015 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
James Brooks, at seventy-seven a dean of the [abstract expressionist art] movement, described in conversation with me the ideal set of mind for a painter who wishes to link his or her hands to the unconscious, as [Jackson] Pollock did: ‘I must lay on the first stoke of paint. After... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2015 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
I finished the third draft for a new composition this afternoon on computer - a revision of my second pencil draft. It's sometimes surprising how much things change from one draft to another and I'm now anticipating a fourth, hopefully better draft. And I had to put other projects on... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2015 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood