What inspires you?

Question: What inspires you?

John Harbison: Well I just feel being away … when I’m away from sound I wanna be around it, and almost just sitting down and knocking out a cord on the piano can be enough. Though sometimes I … since I am a reader, it can be not something I want not necessarily to deal with, but would suggest some world that I’m interested in or could become interested in. I like the company of writers because their world of making thing up is so different from ours. It deals with certain kinds of specifics that I think are very valuable. So I can be inspired by almost anything, even just a change of scenery. But inspiration has never been difficult for me. Sometimes the more difficult thing to find is … and this is probably a deep sort of early psychic thing … is the confidence that the response to the inspiration is durable. Because at a certain point I have to fight through the question part. And I’m much better at teaching or showing other composers how to get through that than I am getting through it myself.I have to catechize myself. I have to talk myself into it. I think we’re all instilled with various levels of confidence. I’ve always been interested in reading Benjamin Britten’s statements. Almost his whole career is described in terms of level of confidence. I wrote that piece I was on a high level of confidence. Some people have that in great abundance, but others have to cultivate it like a garden. Well it tends to be … very often the text writer that I’m engaged with … Elizabeth Bishop. Because I don’t just read the writings of such a person. You know, I find out as much as I can. Because if you’re working with even six or seven poems, there’s so much there that you need to absorb. And so my kind of life history of literary friends is probably where I draw the most excitement. And right now it’s gonna be what next text I set, I’m trying to begin to inhabit it. And it means finding out a lot.Fairly unruly, and I just try to not listen too much to all the wonderfully, orderly, ways that everyone does things. I’ve decided everybody works differently, and the fact that I don’t have any routine and never have had … I’ve just kinda given up worrying about that aspect of it. I tend to work in very unpredictable moments, and I’m learning more and more as, I think, life gets more complicated. As you go along there’s more things you have to keep track of. I’m learning to honor the very brief moment that something might happen.I’ve gone through periods where I know I’m writing just to keep going; but I don’t think I’d be psychologically capable of not doing anything. I probably will just write a piece that can be more executed than actually … the fantasy element gives way somewhat to knowledge; but I would rather do that than not do anything.And it also makes me appreciate much more … you know, those are the pieces that if there’re commissions I feel like I’ve earned my money. And sometimes if I have a commission and I am very wide open, and immediate, and apprehending things easily, when I get the money I think, “My gosh. I didn’t even earn this.” But then I think it evens out. My fee schedule is probably based on the average in terms of these work experiences.

Recorded On: 6/12/07

Sometimes just sitting down and knocking out a cord on the piano can be enough.

The 10 most influential women in tech right now

These thought leaders, founders, and entrepreneurs are propelling the kind of future we want to be a part of.

Credit: Flickr, The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch
Technology & Innovation
  • The tech industry may be dominated by men in terms of numbers, but there are lots of brilliant women in leadership positions that are changing the landscape.
  • The women on this list are founders of companies dedicated to teaching girls to code, innovators in the fields of AI, VR, and machine learning, leading tech writers and podcasters, and CEOs of companies like YouTube and Project Include.
  • This list is by no means all-encompassing. There are many more influential women in tech that you should seek out and follow.

Keep reading Show less

Teen popularity linked to increased depression in adolescence, decreased depression in adulthood

The results of this study showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence, declining in early adulthood and then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.

Credit: Dragana Gordic on Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A 2020 Michigan State University study examined the link between teen social networks and the levels of depression later in life.
  • This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, specifically targeting social network data. The results showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence and declining in early adulthood, then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.
  • There are several ways you can attempt to stay active and socially connected while battling depression, according to experts.
Keep reading Show less

90,000-year-old human hybrid found in ancient cave

Researchers have just discovered the remains of a hybrid human.

Researchers in a chamber of the Denisova cave in Siberia, where the fossil of a Denisova 11 was discovered. CreditIAET SB RAS, Sergei Zelensky
Surprising Science

90,000 years ago, a young girl lived in a cave in the Altai mountains in southern Siberia. Her life was short; she died in her early teens, but she stands at a unique point in human evolution. She is the first known hybrid of two different kinds of ancient humans: the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.

Keep reading Show less

In quantum entanglement first, scientists link distant large objects

Physicists create quantum entanglement, making two distant objects behave as one.

Credit: Niels Bohr Institute
Surprising Science
  • Researchers accomplished quantum entanglement between a mechanical oscillator and a cloud of atoms.
  • The feat promises application in quantum communication and quantum sensors.
  • Quantum entanglement involves linking two objects, making them behave as one at a distance.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast