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The abject badness of Lorca studies

"It is intended that this dissertation present the fact that Castelnuovo- Tedesco took seriously the poetry p...

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Feb. Goals

My goals for Feb:

Keep walking 10,000 steps a day.  I will add 50 push-ups a day.

The key of the month with be E, with four sharps. I will play in that key every day and compose a few pieces in it.

I will learn the first Shostakovich Fugue all the way through, and two sections of Mompou's Música callada.  

I will have a strong, detailed intellectual andamiaje of the Lorca / Music book, with everything except the complete list of the actual pieces of music that will be mentioned. Main ideas of the book, main ideas of each chapter. Architecture of the book.


What I've been trying to say is that the most "worldly" musicology, that which is trying to debunk the myth that music is a pure art for detached from human meanings, depends on the most technical, formalistic analysis, mostly of harmonic movement (only one aspect of music), invests these harmonic structures with ideological charges (resolution is masculine, the misogynistic conquering of the secondary, "feminine" theme), then creates allegories of human subjectivities around these ideological projections. The claim to be postmodern depends on forms of semiotics and / or hermeneutics that are distortions of these concepts. For example, if movement by thirds were semiotically coded as homosexual, then how come listeners unschooled in theory don't hear this in the music? Semiotics cannot be a matter of some secret code.

Of course we use metaphors to describe our subjective experience of music. But we cannot then turn around and establish absolute correspondences between the metaphor and the ideological charge of the music. These correspondences have to be more nuanced and contingent, more historicized. For example, I would accept the argument that a trumpet fanfare has certain historical associations and meanings based on its previous use. So a fanfare might introduce the entrance of the king, and something in another composition that reminds us of a fanfare has that association. That is something different from a musicologist claiming that a certain voice in a Back Cantata reminds her of a nagging wife, and that therefore Bach is being misogynist (a real example!). Wouldn't the musicologist be the misogynist one here, since she is the one hearing a sexist stereotype where nobody has heard one before?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


The ideas I am finding in musicology for relating music to larger "human meanings" are turning out to be rather crude and intellectually naive.  The association of Western tonality itself with male dominance, or the idea that movement in fifths is straight and movement in thirds gay.  There are plenty of people in musicology itself who have called bullshit on this kind of thing, with the reintroduction of essentialist thinking that it entails. I'm sure you could teach a listener to identify certain kinds of musical resolution as misogynist, but many do / would not otherwise experience this. What good is a semiotic code for interpreting music if nobody knows how to hear music this way unless they are taught to do so on a very self-conscious level.

In contrast the seemingly naive belief that music has no meaning at all seems attractive--if this kind of allegorical reading is the only alternative.

This kind of ideological reading is also deeply ahistorical and anachronistic, in that it ignores the way people would have thought of this music at the time of its creation.

The abject badness of Lorca Studies

"El duende del jazz no es muy diferente del duende flamenco."

Monday, January 29, 2018

Some words I've learned recently


A commonplace book, but specifically for musical ideas in the context I encountered it.


An added bonus given to you by a merchant when you buy something. By extension, an added bonus.

In our grammar book we are using in my Structure of Spanish class (King & Suñer), they explain the contrast between lexical categories which are closed (prepositions, articles, pronouns, conjunctions, etc...) and those that are open. Every speaker of the language knows all the pronouns and articles, but not all the nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. Also, we can easily add new nouns, borrowing from Italian or Cajun French as in these two examples, but it is really hard to introduce into the language a new definite article or pronoun. People are resistant about trying to introduce new pronouns like zir, but they don't get mad if I tell them about the word zibaldone.

Other sources talk about function words and content words. To understand a function word, one studies grammar; to understand a content, word, we look it up in the dictionary.

The 5 x 5 method

This is a method I've used to generate ideas.  You can do it in the car or when walking. Suppose you have five major areas in which to generate ideas. You take the first one, and think of five ideas about it.  On your next walk, take the second chapter (area, etc...) and develop 5 ideas about that one. At the end of the process you will have 25 ideas that you can then pare down to 16, by eliminating one areas and keeping four of the five best ideas in the other ones.

The melodramatic style

The melodramatic style in musicology consists of describing harmonic progressions as startling and cataclysmic.  They might be, in some cases, or this might be a discursive by-product of analysis itself. In one instance I've found recently, the writer makes these kinds of statement but then brings us up short:

"I should warn you that several of the points I have made in this chapter may not be audible on many recordings..."

Well that's a relief, I guess.

The writer goes on to say it's her duty to combat over-prettified interpretations with a call to make the music sound more drastic and conflictive, more in tune with her own "gnostic" reading of the score.

 A little later we get an "abject collapse into C minor."

A Paradox

When music and poetry come together, in song settings, Kramer wants to separate them by emphasizing their disjunction. When there is seemingly no connection, as between Stevens and Ives, or Wordsworth and Beethoven, he forces an analogy.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Reading Kramer's "Music and Poetry".

Surely instead of trying to look for parallels between one quartet of Beethoven and one poem by Wordsworth, it would be better to look at larger structural tendencies that don't depend on one person's analysis and judgment of isolated examples.  And this nervous flipping back between poetry and music, between Ives and Wallace Stevens, for example. The comparisons occur at such a high level of abstraction and stylistic obfuscation  that one is never sure of the exact claims being made:

"At first glance, the risk that Wordsworth takes with myth in the 'Intimations' Ode might seem insignificant beside Beethoven's protracted gamble with tonality."

[or else: unrelated in any way; we are comparing musical structures with literary meanings].

Word and Music studies

I've been reading some of Lawrence Kramer's work. He brings together the study of poetry and music in an odd way, because his presupposition is that they are far apart in the first place and thus require Herculean efforts to bring together. Even when he brings them together in the obvious places, as in his writing on the art song, he wants to emphasize their antithetical character, especially in the way that music does violence to the text being set.

That is not how I experience song. I don't think of the poem or text as something pre-existent, which then the composer has set to music (even when that is the case). Rather, I hear the song as a song, with two simultaneous dimensions. In the hearing, these dimensions are inseparable. Of course, I can hear disjunctions. For example, I react strongly against Serrat's 70s pop sounds when he is singing Miguel Hernández. In this case, I think that that is the wrong setting of the text stylistically. But I feel the same way when I hear Cummings read his own poems, even in the absence of music.  He is doing it wrong!  Thus I think of it as a performative issue, more than an issue relating to the presence or absence of music.

Kramer has a very intricate analysis of a piece's harmony, and then pairs that with an account of a poem, then asks us to assent to a comparison between the two. So Beethoven in a piece does this, etc... Wordsworth does this... and then they are found to be analogous.  I don't buy it, because I don't think you could have an experimental subject sit down, read Wordsworth, listen to Beethoven, and come up with anything remotely like these responses. The comparison is the artifact of the analysis, not something present already in anyone's reaction to these kinds of works.

What seems to be missing is the more primordial connection everyone already feels between song and poetry.  We don't need that much effort to bring them together. I feel like Kramer is more romantic than postmodern or poststructuralist as he tries to be.  He falls back on this allegorical style of reading that is pre rather than poststructuralist.  (I remember Barthes warning us against readings that are analogical rather than structural.)  Of course he is a very brilliant guy, but could that brilliance be counter-productive? Song is very close the origin of language itself, and poetry has always been song, although it has been dissociated from song in a few exceptional circumstances, and only within literate traditions.  

Encerrona (4)

I read an autobiography of a writer (Jim Harrison) who begins by saying he does an encerrona by checking into a motel.  (He doesn't use the word encerrona, of course.) That is one method. A writer's colony or retreat would be another. I think the spatial aspect is important: you need to get away in some way, or spend time in your office on the weekend when you normally wouldn't.  Something that marks the time / space as sanctified and devoted only to your work.

If you cannot generate 1,000 about your project in a morning's work, you probably don't have enough ideas, yet, to call it your next book project. This particular project snuck up on me, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, it's my turn now.  It had answers for all my doubts and snowballed so quickly that I was humbled (though I hate when people say they are humbled).  

I think now what I need to do is give more talks about it. I am available!

More Rejection

The rejection project isn't going all that great. I did get a poem rejected from a journal one day after submission, but most of my requests for interviews have been met with acceptances. When I ask colleagues, whether here or elsewhere, to spend time to talk to me about my research, everyone says yes enthusiastically. What is it with people? Getting 100 rejections will be hard at this rate.  

Also, the rejections of poems are by people who don't know me, and thus I am not really putting myself out there all that much. I need to be rejected more in person for this to work to really desensitize myself to rejection so much that I don't even fear or feel it.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

I go right for the debates

When trying to figure out what's what, what direction is up, in a scholarly field, I go right for the debates. I go to jstor and try to read as many book reviews as I can of a prominent figure. This gives me the context of intellectual discussion. Reviews that are mere summaries or that are mostly positive aren't very useful.  By the same token book reviews of my own work that are more mixed are more useful than those that praise me, ego aside. Polemic is enjoyable, even though many are afraid of it.


Lawrence Kramer's book on poetry and music in the 19th century seems promising. I first came across his work in a book on John Ashbery, edited by David Lehman I think, called Beyond Amazement, where Kramer analyzes Elliot Carter's setting of "Syringa." I must have read this as a teenager.

The prose is very high-theory 1980s. The connections he find are sort of allegorical, in the sense that they derive from very convoluted musical and literary analyses, and then comparisons between these convoluted analyses. I would like to find more direct, intuitive connections, that don't depend on a musical ear that can hear Shenkerian analysis.

I've spent a lot of time worrying whether I can do this project, but I've decided to do it so too bad if I can't / am not qualified. I've certainly found a not so great book with the subtitle "FGL y la música." I am already at a higher intellectual level than this guy.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Encerrona (3)

Part of the encerrona can be a narrative account of how you came up with your project.

Another part can be some blog entries in which you track your progress. I've written 1,000 words now.  

Encerrona (2)

I've mentioned the idea of an encerrona before.  The idea is to spend an extensive period of time on a single day to jump start a new project--or to inject new life into an ongoing one. I'm doing this today with LORCA IV. I am not teaching today, girlfriend is in Japan, no meetings with job candidates or papers to grade, so I can devote the entire working day to this. I have 300 words already, in which I discuss my qualifications for the project and some main ideas and directions. I began in the morning before I arose, and outlined some things in my head, then began to write during my morning coffee. If I take a walk somewhere later then my mind will continue to work on this.  I will still practice piano, feed chickens and cat, and do other normal activities of this kind.

If you've tried this technique let me know how it's worked for you. Most research cannot be done in a state of continual encerrona, because, well, life and other work obligations do not permit this. Nevertheless, to do an encerrona is to do a substantial amount of work in one concentrated burst of effort.    

Sunday, January 21, 2018

To begin a new project

To begin a new project is to realize what one already knows about it (more than you think you do), as well as well as the overwhelming challenge of needing to learn more.  I'm deciding whether to do Lorca IV before Lorca III and it's quite overwhelming and exciting to have two project that I could do with equal adeptness (I think). My solution will be to research 4 while I write 3, since I have already done a large part of 3, in terms of thinking out and even writing.  I desperately need to talk to people about this  just to hear myself think out may ideas.

This is shift in perception: what had seen ancillary, like the musical adaptations that you might play for your class as a little added spice for instruction, become now the object of serious study in their own right. I think I know some of the main ideas, and some of the interpretative frameworks I need, as well as the pitfalls that await me.  My notion will be to invest enough work here so that I have a critical mass that make it impossible for me not to do the project. Let's say I wrote out everything I knew now: that would be about 40 pages?  

Thursday, January 18, 2018


I discovered a document in my files called "musical Lorca" from 2014.  I also remember that I gave a talk on musical adaptations of Lorca's work a few years ago, at the comp lit conference in Seattle. So my fourth project on Lorca is not starting right now.  I guess I wasn't aware of the magnitude of the raw materials until now.

Plenty of people work on music with less musical expertise than I have, so I'm not worried about that.  The fact that I feel the need to even mention this is proof I am more conscientious than many are.  There is the possibility of making a mistake, but I could have some musicologists help me out if I get into "technical difficulties."

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


On a lark I put together a list of songs on Spotify based on Lorca. In a coupla days it had fourteen hours of material, and it's not all Flamenco. My piano teacher suggested I play some Mompou, so naturally I figured I would see if he had done any Lorca pieces (he had), and then of course I had to look for other stuff that I know about or that came up in simple searches. When I was writing my most recent research narrative I had to justify spending so much time composing music, so I said that I could write a book about Lorca's musical legacy, and that I need to study enough music theory / composition to be competent.  Then the next day I discovered that I actually could write this book. The problem will be to find some ideas that will sort out the vast amount of material into manageable form. I don't want to just have a list of compositions / songs based on Lorca's texts or a description of a few of them.

What I am looking for more is a Lorquian voice in music. What does that even mean?

If you follow me on Spotify, which you can do if you are my Facebook friend and also have Spotify, then you can see my list.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


I was going to go twice as fast and learn a new key every half month, since I already have a good grasp of the key for January, B. But I am resisting that temptation. Instead, I will use the rest of the month just to reinforce what I've learned and dwell a while comfortably in this new territory. February will be E major. Ultimately, what I want is a very good grasp of 12 keys, so I will force myself to play a lot even in ones I already know well. At least I can already say that B is not one of my weakest one.  Now those would be F#/Gb and E. A, D, and G are not hard, but I haven't written songs in those keys yet. I am more comfortable in C, F, Bb, Eb, Ab, and Db.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Some French serials

I am watching some French Netflix serials to practice French comprehension, and to give myself some things non-work related to do before classes start tomorrow.  I put the subtitles on in French. and I understand everything that way. A couple things I noticed:

They don't do the questions the way I was taught:  Où est-il.  They say: Il est où?  They never use the thing I was taught:  "Est-ce que..." to introduce a question.

You can get mileage out of "ça va" as question, answer to its own question, or "ça va mal," and "Je suis desolx".  

They don't use ne... all the time. I only notice when it's not there so maybe that's not consistent. They way "Je sais pas" not "Je ne sais pas."

They write out oui as ouai when they want to emphasize that pronunciation.  

A flic is a cop. All these shows have lots of flics.

I don't care for the plots much. The shows bear the outward trappings of quality tv, with pretty but also edgy camera angles, like the shot with background moving in and out of focus, generic backgroundy tv music, but well executed [the subtitles will tell you what the music conveys, like "anxious music" because they are designed for people who can't hear], and plots that make you uncomfortable: gruesome serial killers, ruthless kidnappers, grave robbers. But behind this veneer of quality are some hoary tropes: flic with questionable past in search of redemption... I get a bit squeamish when I think the gruesome plot premise is there because it is the easiest thing to do, not because someone had a good idea.  

Some Ideas about rejection

Rejection leaves things as they were. Suppose you ask for something and the answer is no. Then you have exactly what you had before you asked.

The fear of rejection is much worse than rejection itself. Someone who hasn't been rejected a lot hasn't tried very much, has played it safe most of the time.  

Rejection is not a stain on you. If you read poems in a literary journal you will read what is there, not what isn't, so nobody is thinking about your rejected poems.

You can think of rejection as a percentage. If you had to sell 10 tickets to an event you might have to ask 500 people. Then you've met your goal.  I'm going to submit poems every day of the year that I can.   I just have to have a few acceptances out of all of those. If I want 10 poems in print I might have to send out 500.  

Rejection isn't personal (except when it is!). There is such a thing as personal rejection: someone is rejecting you, as a person, does not want to be your friend or romantic partner, or even to do something with you. That is a topic for another post. But a lot of rejection has nothing to do with one's self.  Say you send in an article and it is read as a blind submission. Even when there is some personal element, it is helpful to realize that it might be less of a factor than you assume.

There are people who have been rejected in traumatic ways, or for whom rejection is the dominant experience in their life. Those people won't be able to view rejection in the way that I am recommending.  

Friday, January 12, 2018


The rejection project and the bad poetry project are natural twins (for obvious reasons!). I am sending my bad poems to very good journals. If I send out poems every day I am certain to be rejected a lot. And possibly even accepted a few times. What is brilliant about this is that you aren't even expecting acceptance, so any of those are just added rewards that don't even effect the overall success of the project.  It is greatly empowering, even for someone like me who is not particularly bothered by being rejected.

On the radio once I heard a book being read aloud. I don't know what the book was, but the theory was that if you asked out 100 women...  (You get the idea. I'm probably not remembering it correctly either; this was more than 20 years ago.) I'm in a relationship so this is not applicable, and I didn't have to ask out 100 women to get a girlfriend either, or even close to that.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

100 rejections

I'm doing this thing where I am trying to get rejected 100 times. I don't agree with the original premise of the 100 rejections idea, where you ask random people for trivial and annoying favors. I don't believe in annoying people or being creepy. I am doing it by submitting poems and the like. I've applied to grade AP exams in the summer, etc...

The idea is to get over the fear of rejection by seeking it out deliberately.  Of course, the added benefit is that you could get published more, or have other opportunities.

30 years

My PhD is from 1988. (I started taking Spanish 11 years before that.) I was already an established scholar in my field in the early 1990s, publishing in MLN in 1990 and PMLA in 1991. Aside from maybe a brief lull in the early 2000s,* I've kept it up. Yesterday I had the opportunity to write another one of those career narratives for something I am being nominated for. This morning I woke up wondering why I feel so like I've never accomplished quite enough. I don't really have that much more to prove.

The answer, though, is simple: it's not that I feel inadequate despite the length of my cv. Rather, the c.v. is something external to me that can never do the work of making me feeling adequate within. In fact, it is evidence of someone who still has something to prove. Obviously, a long cv is not the road to self-acceptance.  Yet it does provide satisfaction.  There is no way to write this kind of career narrative without realizing that I am a heavy weight.  

*Looking over my cv, though, it is hard to see even a break. I think I didn't publish anything in 2004, but that's about it. The leanest years are preceded by the 1990s, when I was on fire, and I published two books in 2009, one of which was being developed in the early 2000s.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018


I am probably not neurologically typical. By this I don't mean that I am on the autism spectrum: I do not have problems with social interactions, eye contact, and the like. I am not the most socially smooth person, of course, but I can read people's emotions and don't have any of those particular characteristics.
I don't score high for Aspergers on the typical internet tests for it (not that those have any scientific value!).  

I am not obsessive-compulsive, either, in the clinical sense. (Hand washing, turning off lights, etc..) What I do have, though, is a kind of obsessive compulsion to do certain things. This can be memorizing poetry, learning all 12 keys on the piano, or studying the quasi-mathematical patterns of prosody. If I am interested in an author I want to read every damn word that the person wrote. I feel that I must compose music, that I have no choice to do so, and that only by doing so can I scratch a particular itch that I feel in my brain.

I enjoy reading books in languages I barely know.  I am prone to very severe "ear worm."

I don't have ADHD. My attention span is extraordinarily good.

I may be highly intelligent as well. That is not "typical." There are, however, people who are smarter than I am but without my particular set of characteristics. I believe, rightly or wrongly, that my ideas are more original and interesting than most other smart academics. I also believe that I am more self-aware about my confirmation biases and of my "professional deformation." I was arrogant in youth but now infused with a deep humility about the extreme limits of my erudition.

Very strong in me is a sense of religious awe, combined with a complete skepticism about any religious explanation of that awe. I feel that awe just by being alive and looking out the window at an oak tree. The conduit to it is music. I will never again mock anyone's religious faith, because that seems to be the way that many people channel this particular feeling. Many, of course, are religious but not spiritual, to reverse the personal ad cliché, and those deserve all the mockery in the world (though not by me).  

I think what I am saying here is that the way we think of our neurological "wiring" needs to be more nuanced. We tend to think along a set of axes, from normal or typical to pathological or disordered. Many of us in academia are just not wired the same way as a normal person (whoever that is!), but there are many ways of not being typical. I often feel out of touch even in academia, among scholars of poetry or poets.


Among those who comment frequently on the blog, though, I feel completely attuned. I am not saying this because I will agree with every opinion they might hold. (Agreement might be overrated.)  Or because they like me personally (though they may). What I am saying is that people who read the blog and comment are those who get me, through a process of self-selection.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

PC hits the choir

I don't know what to think of this. The choir director decided our program would be a celebration of gospel music and spirituals. Our choir is basically white folks, with the average age being somewhere over 60, I'd say. There are a lot of churchgoers. (I feel I'm on the younger end of things at 57, though there are a few younger people as well, but very few under 40.) There is one hispanic guy, but zero African Americans. We live in a predominately white city, but there are a few black churches.  

The choir director is a white guy, also nearing retirement age, with a strong record of involvement in some of this music, like knowing personally some of the arrangers and composers, etc... He is our artistic director but he is employed by us. (We are his boss and pay his salary.)  

Half the choir is up in arms about it. Mostly people don't want to be a white choir culturally appropriating this music. That term wasn't used, but that's the basic idea. People don't want to sing in "dialect," etc... We've made no effort to reach out to the community, and the concert in the spring would be basically white people singing to a white audience of our friends and family. (There could be conservative people who don't want to sing black music, but nobody is going to say that. Most of the objections are from some of the relatively young people.  And I heard a new guy, attending his first rehearsal, deciding not to come back at all.) I suggested we keep one of the most musically satisfying pieces but not make the theme of our concert the black experience in the US.

By and large I think that cultural appropriation is a bogus concept. But here it is hard to argue that the situation is awkward. I've noticed before that the choir is white. That in itself is a problem to be addressed.    

Monday, January 8, 2018

B (2)

The key of the month club is going well. I've composed three songs in the key of B. Even if this experiment lasts only one month, it will have been worthwhile.  Even after only a week B is no longer one of my weakest keys.  Thinking in terms of sharps rather than flats reorients my vision, so that Eb - 7 becomes D#-7.  


A melodic "hook" has the shape of a hook, on the axes of pitch and time.

Saturday, January 6, 2018


This is not a dream, though it has a dream-like flavor in my memory. The Mormon church in the nineteenth century believed in socialism as a matter of principle, and there was a small town run as a communal experiment. Someone had written an opera or musical play of some kind about this town, and we were going to put it on. (Some people in the church, including my older sister.) I would have been 14, let's say, at the time, though I cannot place the date or my exact age with any accuracy. I auditioned for the main part, reading through the part for quite a while. It had notes that were at the top of my range and difficult to reach. Most of it was in a kind of recitative style. There weren't arias that I remember. I got the part, but the composer wanted to charge a certain sum of money for the rights to put it on, so it didn't happen. I was disappointed when my sister told me, but nobody ever mentioned it again. It wasn't that there was a reason for not talking about it, but simply that there was no reason to talk about it. I wasn't disappointed enough to brood about it, and probably nobody else cared more than I did.

What makes this memory peculiar is that it is the memory of something that did not happen. There have been entire decades when I simply did not think about it at all, and it is only recently that I remembered it again, when I was thinking about all the times I have sung or performed music. I think it is a genuine memory because the experiment with Mormon socialism is a historical fact, and too oddly specific to be a spurious product of my imagination. The only thing that would bring things full circle would be to find the opera, somehow, or to see if my mom remembers something about it.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Copyediting / horseback riding

When I realize what one of my main fears is it sounds ridiculous:  copyediting. I am in fear that the book will have things I have to fix on the technical level of citations, etc... and that I will be bored and hence careless in doing this work.

From this I derive a new insight. If we can relabel fears with ridiculous labels, they will not be as frightening. You are afraid of copyediting?


In a dream last night I dreamt that someone was criticizing me for various things. One of them was my lack of skill at riding a horse. Apparently she had seen me try and noticed I was a bit awkward on the horse. I responded very logically: I rarely need to ride a horse, hence this lack of ability is largely beside the point. Moreover, because of this irrelevance, the only reason to bring up my clumsiness has to be deliberate cruelty on your part. I am perfectly aware that I am not an expert or experienced rider, and do not care. (In fact, I have only been on horse once as an adult.)  


Apart from the merit or lack of merit in my musical compositions, what amazes me is that I can do it at all. Just to be able to say: I wrote that.  At one point I wanted to take lessons in song-writing, but I have just realized that what I wanted was reassurance, someone saying: yes, that is indeed a song. This, too, is ridiculous, since I know that it is so already.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Cover art

Here are some cover options. What do you think?  I tend to undervalue my visual competence so I need more opinions.


The key of the month will be B.  I first make sure I know the scale itself. Then I make sure I have in hand the 9 chords associated with the key (7 plus the tritone substitution, and the dominant chords for the I and IV to play the blues). I then compose a piece in the key. (I have done this, but haven't written out the "B" section yet.)

I can do a key a month this way, always choosing as my next key the one I like or know the least.  So Feb will have to be E or Gb. By the end of the year, I can simply review the keys I already have a better grasp of.

Writing in B is not hard per se, but it led me to an idea I would not have had otherwise: iii IV7 iii ii / iii IV7 II7 V (tritone sub) / I vii I V I...  In other words, it is not just the completist urge to learn all the keys, but the ability to generate ideas out of new ways of thinking about familiar relationships.