Yesterday I received this email:
"Just downloaded Skedaddle!
Question: is there a reason why it automatically saved as "Naked Skedaddle in B minor a la Elissa"? I opened it in the Finale Songbook app, and that's what title it got saved under. However, in Notability, it auto-saved as "Skedaddle and Prep correct," which seems like a more understandable file name. Just thought I'd ask...and/or make you aware.... I'm very curious!"
Hmm...I didn't know that my secret file names could somehow attach themselves. Oh, wait. You want to know why it was called that in the first place?
The answer is it wasn't. At least not at first.
The initial title was Toccatina Attention Grabber 3. I was thinking of the Toccatina from the fabulous Kabalevsky Opus 27 Pieces. (If you have never taught those pieces immediately grab a copy and start. The entire set is great and many of them never show up in collections. My favorite is Short Story. I love it so much that I took my recording and made a video montage of Mary Cassatt paintings with it as the score.)
But back to the question of how it got from Toccatina to Naked Skedaddle in B minor a la Elissa.
It was in the key of D Minor when I started. I was hoping to avoid a key signature so it would be more like my other Attention Grabber Pieces.
I sent it in this rather dull form to my friend, the wonderful composer, Elissa Milne, asking for suggestions. And suggestions I received! That version was saved "a la Elissa."
I tried combining the versions - in D minor but with some of her pizazz added.
It didn't feel as interesting as it did in B Minor - the key Elissa had suggested. When I first taught it to Alex, it was still in D minor. (This made her performance in the "Playing with Pencils" video even more impressive. She'd learned the entire piece in a completely new key that week!)
When I experimented with removing rests, I needed a way to describe it. It was the version Elissa had suggested, but I had taken something off of it - namely the rests. So I called it "Naked Skedaddle in B minor a la Elissa" to remind myself I was re-experimenting with her suggestions, and it was still in the key of B minor. It didn't occur to me that it might conjure up racy images of the lovely Elissa. It made sense to me at the time, and I had no idea that the file name was attached in any way that would ever become visible to anyone else.
When I write a piece, I try to balance the trickiness/interesting with the difficulty/simplicity. In this case I was writing a piece for an intermediate student that had lots of physical stickiness - a great deal of choreography that would make it fun to play.
When I look at the manuscripts of the great masters, I see things crossed out. Here's an excerpt from the Beethoven Sonata Opus 111 score:
I don't mean to compare myself to Beethoven, of course, but it's interesting that the process of writing music has become more private because of the use of the computer. I can keep various versions and incarnations of a piece private. At least I thought so until "Naked Skedaddle a la Elissa" accidentally went forth into the world.
Maybe the world of modern composing isn't any different than the old days after all.