I've been listening to Bruckner's Fifth. I'm impressed by his use of strict repetition to achieve huge climaxes. He uses roving major chord harmonies like what I'm doing now. I don't know any composer who uses silence the way Bruckner does.
I listen to Webern. He, like Feldman, neutralizes the stress of dissonance by generally keeping to quiet sounds.
Weill's Seven Deadly Sins has the greatest cake walk ever: muted trumpets and strings. If more people wrote cake walks life would be much happier, I think.
And then there's Louis Andriessen: The Letters to Vermeer, The Death of a Composer. I remember the first time I heard these works. They struck me as a mighty wind. I had never heard such aggressive saxes, such sudden, unapologetic dead-silence. Singers sing ee on very high notes and they sound all right.
You learn all sorts of stupid things the more you write: practical things like how to get through a bad time when nothing comes, when to write and when not to write, etc. The main thing is just to keep going. Don't let the day get to you.
You need really big chunks of time every day otherwise it's really hard, at least for me, to see the work through to the end.
When I go to museums I think, "They did it. I can do it too." Seeing good art and listening to good music makes me feel less alone. I think, "I can go on."
I don't make art that's purposefully difficult. It's just that the expression of what I feel is often difficult to perform. I try to keep everything as simple as possible. The problem is that I can't make my expressions any simpler without denying their integrity. I think it was Einstein who said that everything should be as simple as possible but no simpler.
In the end, we can't alter who we are. We can't write someone else's music. We have to write the music we must write, for the good and the bad of it, and call it our own.
I think we live in a golden age of music. There's an embarrassment of great composers out there and hundreds of really good ones. There's so much beautiful music in the world, so many drunken sounds.