Interview with Carl Verbraeken

Carl Verbraeken – is a Belgian composer, born in Wilrijk in 1950. He studied music composition in the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, before he embarked his long lasting and productive career, during which, he had wrote more than 1000 works. Carl Verbraeken specialises in piano music, chamber music and orchestral works. As a well known composer in Belgium, today (since 2011), he is president of the Union of Belgian Composers. Musicologist Ona Jarmalavičiūtė had a brief chat with a composer about the way he brings his musical ideas to life.

What is the most fun and the most boring part in the compositional process?

The most fun are the “effects”, the most boring is, at times, quantizing inspiration into a score.

Define inspiration – does it exist?

O Yes. Inspiration is harvesting the fruits of your soul on the field of life.

How do you usually create a new idea of a piece?

The new idea must have a certain connectiveness with the people around me.

How does the process of forming an idea looks like?

By guessing its impact on the public-to-come, right from the beginning

How do you transform the abstract idea into material – sketch, notes?

Mainly by midi-improvisation , enhanced with form schemes, and -if needed, with melody sketches.

What form do your notes and sketches take?

Notes on paper have become the exception, midi recordinternational on a Digital piano is the main inspiration recording device.

What is your purpose of music sketching?

to support the musical form, if necessary.

What do you do to get into your creative zone?

Mostly, that is no problem. Just being ‘in the mood’.

Can you see your finished product before you start it?

Not always, but often I can.

How does the initiative process of music making looks in your creative process?

I always try to think about that.

When do you decide that the preparation (precomposition) period is over and now you will start to actually compose?

That depends on if there is some sort of deadline…

Please describe your state of mind when you are creating something

I feel active, fascinated and happy.

How do you know when a piece or project is finished and needs no additional work?

When the piece is readable, playable and able to transfer the artistic idea it contains.

Do you critique your own work? Explain.

I often ‘comment’ my own work. Self-critique is for yourself, not for others

Do you identify with your creative product? Explain.

Very often. But I want to be in control of that process. I hope that, some time, our music could be much more accessible to all and that we could make as many people as possible happy with it!

Thank you!

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