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Why Do I Compose “Blueprints”?

On several occasions, people have glanced at my scores and commented along the lines of: "But there aren’t any notes. How can this be a score?" I thought I’d take a moment to explain why I compose "Blueprints," scores that don’t include specific notes, but instead offer instructions and suggestions that guide collaboration between the performer and myself, the composer.

Wouldn’t it just be easier to write out the full version so that the pianist knew what to perform? Yes, and… 

Reason 1: Being a Composer Can Be Lonely!

In all honesty, the act of writing down a piece doesn’t always fill me with a lot of fulfillment. Sure, when I capture something in a way that seems “true,” I do feel a gratifying sense of fulfillment, but it’s a quiet sense, a calm one, coming to deep peace, like I’ve solved an important problem.

It’s only when I work with the performers in rehearsal that I feel the piece is truly brought to life and its inner meaning blossoms. 

The Blueprint to the Rescue

Over the past few years, I’ve developed the musical Blueprint to nurture this way of working.

It grounds the performer but gives enough room so that they can make it their own.

Each Blueprint is built around a scale and includes instructions, a distinctive soundscape, and underlying intent for the performer to realize in their own way. Just as a builder brings an architect's vision to life, the performer's expertise fully completes the musical Blueprint.

For example, Blueprint 6 is based on this scale:

The scale for Garrett Fisher's Blueprint 6 for Solo Piano

The pianist is supposed to realize a “lingering thought” with the right hand, based on the range:

A sample instruction in Garrett Fisher's Blueprint 6 for Solo Piano

The score offers creative flexibility, allowing the performer to realize their own authentic version, one that’s grounded by the underlying soundscape and structure. Each person’s version of “lingering thought” will be unique, but (hopefully!) will point to the same underlying blueprint of it.

Here’s a complete version of Blueprint 6 I created, along with the score:

Reason 2: My Astrological Sign Made Me Do It

I have a confession: I’m a Gemini. I always need to see things from multiple perspectives and have a hard time settling on just one.

Call it a quirk or a creative conundrum, but when I compose, I’m constantly exploring different avenues. The Blueprint becomes a canvas where my myriad ideas converge into a single expression, waiting for the performer to breathe life into it. It allows me to hold all my multiple versions in one basket.

I write Blueprints because they are the truest form of my music. To write out a specific version as the final product of it would flatten its roundness.

How the Blueprint Benefits You, the Audience

What I’ve learned is that the Blueprint really isn’t about me or the performer. It’s about you, the audience, and providing you a transformative experience.

By allowing performers to imprint their interpretation onto the music, each Blueprint becomes a living, breathing entity, pulsing with a life of its own, enriching the experience for you, the audience, and transcending mere notes on a page.

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