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I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Six Lectures

I am going to try to finish these this year, then spend the sabbatical on the Lorca and music book:  

Six Lectures: 

Lorca and me*
Lorca par lui-même
The Death of the Subject
"Like Buckets of an Endless Waterwheel": Serial Selves in the Suites
[Something on Lorca's theater] 
What Lorca Knew: Teaching Receptivity*

Five of the six have a lot written on them already. Two of them are virtually complete (asterisk). The only exception is the chapter on Lorca's theater, which I have not really begun.  I guess to make the book a coherent argument, it would have to talk about subject positions in Lorca's theater. 

Friday, September 27, 2019


If you treat people unequally, or differently, based on certain characteristics, then you will produce differences in their experiences and capabilities. For example, if you taught all the boys, and none of the girls, Latin, then men would be the Latinate sex. This difference would purely the product of inequality in treatment. This is why I believe that "difference" feminism is anti-feminism by another name. You cannot base feminism on the positive value of discriminatory treatments. It is inequality that produces "difference" in the first place, after all.  

By the same token, the ideology of difference takes any real difference, and makes it into a metaphysical principle rather than a simple variation between populations. If you measured and tested men and women on certain axes, then you might come up with the tall sex, the musical sex, the verbal sex, the mathematical sex. Banal and sometimes minor differences, then, could be justify further acts of discrimination, acts that made these differences even greater.

 Suppose the average girl showed slightly more aptitude for Latin than the average boy; then we could reverse ourselves and offer Latin to all the girls and none of the boys.  Brilliant!  Girls are "better at Latin," so wouldn't that be logical? Only following an ideology that takes trivial differences between populations as absolutes, rather than overlapping bell curves they really are. 

Note that for my argument it doesn't matter if there are actual differences. Take height: we can establish that the bell curve for height does differ by gender. It's a difference, but it doesn't really have an effect on issues unrelated to height. Being a woman taller than the average man has no relevance to gender identity at all. 

It is quite striking how many people get this wrong. They either have to prove that the bell curves are non-overlapping, when they clearly are, or denounce any hint of difference as heresy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


I should not be too attached to particular views about my chosen object of study. In other words, I should let others have their "Lorcas" in peace. This has been hard for me to accept, but a kind of "clinging" to particular conclusions can be damaging to me. Releasing my views rather than clinging to them can be wonderfully liberating.

That is not the same thing as not having views. I just don't have to feel threatened by other perspectives, even ones that are frustrating to me like a certain literal mindedness in interpretation.


There are moments in many other poets that make me think: "That's as great as Lorca."

Quedo de nuevo grabado en la memoria
de mi madre. El sol se mueve, mas no sé para qué sirven
las llaves del vientre, todo lo que fue mi casa
al amanecer...

(José Barroeta)

There are moments of poetic explosion. Not every poem by Lorca has that explosive quality, either. In a way, the canonization of a poet is arbitrary, not because the canonized poet is not great, on many levels, but because it distorts things. A bad dish made on an off day by a great chef still tastes bad, but a hypercanonical poet is under the microscope for every detail. I guess I benefit from this is a Lorca specialist, but I recognize that as a distortion.

I've often said that people claim to be interested in non-canonical things but don't really commit to that. The debate is always to get other things into that category.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Walking bass lines

Nothing has helped me improvise as much as learning to write (and improvise) walking bass lines. When you think about it, these lines have everything you need:

*They outline the chord tones of the chords in any particular set of chord changes. 

*They are melodic. They can go up and down the scale, hitting the chord tones, or can be arpeggiated.  So they are scales + arpeggios. 

*They have chromatic (non-scale) tones as leading tones to the scale tones. They can have "enclosures" (a word I learned today!), in other words, approaches to the target notes from chromatic leading tones above and below in the same phrase.  

If you can improvise a bass line on a set of chord changes, you can improvise a melodic line as well, because you are already doing it. The differences:

*The walking bass line is almost all quarter notes. The improvised melodic line will be mostly eighth notes and triplets, with a much more irregular rhythm, and including pauses between phrases. 

*The bass line tends to hit the chord root on the first beat of the measure, or beat 3 if the chord changes there. You can begin a chord on a note other than the root, but while learning I tend to just use the root every time. The treble melodic line emphasizes all the other chord tones except for the root

I'm developing the technique of playing a bass line and then improvising above it with a melodic line. It isn't easy for me. The treble lines come out very stiff sounding, stiffer than if I am simply playing block chords in the left hand. My ideas sound more limited than when I have other kinds of accompaniments.   

I learned bass lines for the first section of "Autumn Leaves" in all twelve keys this summer. This meant learning 2-5-1 progressions in both major and minor in every key, cycling downward through the circle of fifths. I have also improvised many hours over "Bemsha Swing," but just in one key. I can't get a good bass line for this song, since the movement of the chords is already so chromatic it doesn't seem to leave much space.  I guess I'll have to look at one from a record to see some of the possibilities here.  

Saturday, September 21, 2019


I ran 5 miles yesterday at 7:10 a kilometer. Today I ran 3 miles at the exact same rate.  I think I'm settling in to that as my basic rate for tempo runs. Both runs I did without looking at the app while running see how fast I as going, so I wasn't aiming for any particular speed.

If I can run 5 miles (8 k), then I can probably run 10 kilometers. This makes me think I could run the ten k in 70 minutes. Those are 11 minute miles, I guess.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

I found this in my files while looking for something else

Theory of Timbre: Wittgenstein, Barthes, Lorca 

"Timbre, of all the parameters of music, is the one least considered.  It lacks not only an adequate theory, but even an inadequate one."  (Robert Cogan)  

"The grain of the voice is not—or is not merely—its 'timbre.'''  (Barthes 185)   

Timbre is a qualitative judgment about the properties of the tonal shadings of a given sound.  In fact, it is one the best examples I know of what the word "qualitative" might mean.  Timbre has an objective counterpart, as defined by the specific harmonic components of the sound in question.  But that is not really timbre, is it?   The qualitative experience of seeing bricks of that particular shade of red out the window right now is not defined by the length of the waves of light that produce the experience. There's something irreducibleabout the qualitative, so that if you attempt to translate it into other non-qualitative terms, you've essentially missed the point.  
All sounds have timbre, but the term is most often applied to music and to the human voice, whether singing or merely speaking.  (The relation between music and the human voice is, in fact, a crux of my argument in what follows.)  The difference between various vowel sounds is almost entirely a function of timbre, so the ability to perceive quite subtle differences of timbre is fundamental to phonological perception, to the aural processing of language.  There's also a material or environmental aspect:  just as you can hear a glass crashing to the floor and hear it as glass, you can hear the woodsiness or metallicness of a musical instrument. You can hear friction and smoothness, hardness and liquidity, aurally perceiving the material textures of the lived environment.       
Various elements go into the production of timbre. A musical sound is composed of a fundamentalpitch and a series of harmonic overtones based on certain ratios:  1:2, 1:3, 1:4, etc...  This is called the "overtone series."  A second element is articulation, or the relation betweenattackand sustain.  Think of a piano note, which has a strong percussive onset, followed by a relatively quick decay:  it begins to fade away immediately after that percussive attack. Now think of an organ note:  it lacks the percussive onset, and continues to sound at the same volume as long as the note is held.  A third factor is vibrato, or the vacillation of the fundamental pitch.  In evaluating timbre we would have to describe presence or absence of vibrato, its speed and "wideness" or "narrowness." Yet another possible element to be considered is the presence of "noise," or sound that does not seem to be an inherent part of the pitch:  the raspiness of a voice or the breathiness of a saxophone.      
How is timbre relevant to "Philosophy and Literature"?  My purpose here to use it as an example of aesthetic phenomena that are not discussed very often because they lack an adequate theoretical or descriptive metalanguage.  Much of literary theory is concerned with questions of hermeneutics:  what is a valid interpretation?  Is the meaning of the text in the author's intention, the text itself, or the reader?  Theoretical questions that are not related in some way to hermeneutics, or that cannot be placed in the service of hermeneutics, tend to be seen as marginal. Susan Sontag, in her well-known essay "Against Intepretation," proposed that "in place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art."  For me thepoint is not really to be against interpretation, because interpretation is close to inescapable, but to turn our attention to elements that aren’t easily recuperable for hermeneutics.    
In my own view, such nonrecuperable elements are actually (among) the more important features of a literary work, although they are the hardest to talk about in a meaningful way—precisely because they seem to escape the tyranny of meaning. From one perspective, it might seem that "meaning" of the song is in the words themselves.  Yet this is only part of the story:  what makes the song "meaningful" for a listener is, typically, the overall gestalt, including the texture of the singer's voice, his or particular interpretation of the lyric, the phrasing, pacing, and rhythm, and the evocation of particular cultural and musical traditions.  Timbre is the quality that makes something recognizable as itself. How do you recognize someone's voice on the phone?  (My mother, wife, or daughter, not just a generic female voice.)  The recognition of a voice is similar to the recognition of a face, for which humans have a highly developed capacity.  Voices and faces are charged with social and personal meanings, and the average human being is an expert in reading and interpreting this information.  
The timbre of the voice is analogous to that of a musical instrument.  Let's listen to the difference in timbre among three major tenor saxophone players:  John Coltrane, Stan Getz, and Coleman Hawkins.  Trane is metallic and saturated, with a very tight, controlled vibrato that only becomes perceptible on longer notes.   Getz's tenor sax sounds almost like a bassoon.  He favors the upper register of the tenor so that it sounds almost like an alto.    Note, also, the softness of his "attack":  the onset of the note is extremely smooth.  Hawkins is rougher, raspy, with a vibrantly warm vibrato and an assertive attack more typical of jazz articulation.        
From Coltrane, Getz, and Hawkins it is somewhat of a leap to the figures promised by my title: Wittgenstein, Lorca, and Barthes. None of these three authors proposes a theory of timbre, per se, but each has contributed something to my thinking about the set of theoretical problems I naming "timbre." From Ludwig Wittgenstein I take a few key ideas.  In the first place, aesthetic perception is rooted in particular cultures or "ways of life"; it cannot be reduced to a universal definition of the "beautiful," which for Wittgenstein is a fairly useless concept:  "You might think Aesthetics is a science telling us what's beautiful—almost too ridiculous for words.  I suppose it also ought to include what sort of coffee tastes well" (Lectures and Conversations11).  Wittgenstein is interested in the "click" or "fit" that leads to aesthetic perception.  What makes us say, for example, that a particular tempo is the right one?  It is the one that "fits," but, as he points out:  "We are again and again using this simile of something clicking or fitting, when there is really nothing that clicks or fits anything" (Ibid. 19).  In other words, there is no pre-existing measure by which we can say that a particular tempo is the right one.  Wittgenstein can lead us to a consideration of aesthetic judgments that seem to rely on indefinable criteria, judged in ad hoc situation and lacking universalizable justifications.      
 Roland Barthes's short essay "The Grain of the Voice," originally published in 1972, is one striking example of an aesthetic criterion that seems entirely idiosyncratic, that it would be difficult to apply outside of the particular cultural context in which Barthes was moving. He begins the essay by complaining about the tyranny of the adjective in music criticism:  the dominance of this part of speech seems reductive to him, and he proposes the concept of the "grain" in order to enact a "displacement" of a certain standard rhetoric that labels music by deploying a series of predictable predicate adjectives.        
Barthes borrows a binary opposition from Julia Kristevathegeno-text and pheno-text, in order to contrast two dimensions of vocal art and two distinct approaches. The pheno-song is identified with everything conventional:    
The pheno-song[...] covers all the phenomena, all the features which belong to the language being sung, the rules of the genre, the coded form of the melisma, the composer's idiolect, the style of the interpretation: in short, everything in the performance that is in the service of communication, representation, expression, everything that is customary to talk about, which forms the tissue of cultural values.  (Barthes 182)    
The "geno-song," in contrast, is 
the volume of the singing and speaking voice, the space where significations germinate 'from within language and its very materiality'; it forms a signifying play having nothing to do with communication, representation, (of feelings) expression. (Ibid.)  
Barthes identifies it, more particularly, with the encounter between musical expression and phonology:  "It is, in a very simple word that must be taken seriously, the dictionof the language" (183; original emphasis).     
To illustrate this dichotomy Barthes contrasts the styles of two singers, the German baritone Dieter Fischer-Dieskau, who represents the pheno-song, and the Swiss-born French baritone Charles Panzéra, who sings at the level of the geno-songand thus exemplifies the "grain of the voice."  What Barthes values in Panzéra's singing is a particular relation to the phonetics and prosody of the French language.  [Musical example].  Barthes felt that the French were losing a certain relation to their own language: "the French are abandoning their language, not assuredly, as a normative set of noble values [...] but as a source of pleasure, of thrill, a site where language works for nothing, that is, in perversion [...]" (187; emphasis in original).  It is interesting that Barthes locates a certain libidinal relation to language in the past, employing a decidedly nostalgic tone. There is also an admittedly "hallucinated" quality in Barthes's description of Panzéra's voice: 
This phonetics—am I alone in perceiving it?  am I hearing voices within the voice?  but isn't it the truth of the voice to be hallucinated?  isn't the entire space of the voice an infinite one?  [...] does not exhaust signifiance(which is inexhaustible), but it does at least hold in check the attempts at expressive reductionoperated by the whole culture against the poem and its melody. 
(184; original emphasis).         
Fischer-Dieskau, who represents the conventionality of the pheno-song, gets to be the straw man in Barthes's argument.  [Musical example].  The contrast between the two singers is also a contrast between two national cultures—French and German—with their two genres:  mélodieand lied, and between two epochs:  Panzéra was born in 1896 and "FD," as Barthes calls him, in 1925.  This use of a German singer as straw man is significant, I think, because Barthes is making an argument specific to the French language and to French culture rather than proposing a universal aesthetic principle.  Because he is proposing an aesthetic criterion wrapped up, clearly, in his own libidinal relation to the French language, the concept of the grain is untranslatable.  Of course, Barthes must also rely a bit on the romantic heritage of national essences: if Panzéra is prototypically French, then, to what extent does it make sense that his voice transcends culture itself, as Barthes seems to be claiming?  If Panzéra wrote treatises on vocal art, as he did, does not this lead to a new sort of codification or pheno-text?            
I do not mean to propose Federico García Lorca's duendeas another name for Barthes's grainde la voix.  The two concepts are conceptually and qualitatively distinct, and each is linked to a separate variety of cultural nationalism and to a particular genre of song:  the Spanish cante jondoand the French mélodie, respectively.  At the same time, however, there are some suggestive similarities that justify my linkage.  The primary reason for juxtaposing these two essays is that they are two of the most significant essays that I know of that address the performative dimension of poetry through the medium of song, and argue for the virtues of a particular vernacular tradition.  Both, in fact, contrast their own national traditions to German ones.  It is perhaps no coincidence that both Lorca and Barthes were piano players.  [Musical example.]       
Lorca contrasts skill, technique, mastery (las facultades ... la técnica ... la maestría) to the duende.  It is tempting, then, to identify Lorca's musewith Barthes's pheno-text.  It is not that these concepts are, in any strict sense, synonymous, but rather that they occupy parallel functions in the two essays:  they are structurally and rhetorically equivalent.  Barthes says that the grainis not in the lungs ("a stupid organ") but in the throat and the speech organs.  Lorca, on the other hand, maintains that the duendedoes not come from the throat but from the soles of the feet.  Both, however, are speaking of a corporeal force that breaks through a conventional system of performance in order to present a bodily force that is, in some sense, prior to cultural codification. The museis mere intelligence, in contrast to the telluric force of the duende:[i]   
Todas las artes son capaces del duende, pero donde encuentra más campo, como es natural, es en la música, en la danza, y en la poesía hablada, ya que éstas necesitan un cuerpo vivo que interprete, porque son formas que nacen y mueren de modo perpetuo y alzan sus contornos sobre un presente exacto.  
[Every art form is capable of duende, but where it finds more terrain, naturally, is in music, dance, and spoken poetry, since these require a live body to interpret, being forms that are born and die perpetually and erect their shape onto an exact present.]   
For Barthes, similarly the grain of the voice is linked to the present of performance:  it is "the materiality of the body speaking its mother tongue" (182) or "the body in the voice as it sings, the hand as it writes, the limb as it performs" (188).   
The subjective perception of the presence of absence of the duende is related to the certain "grain of the voice," even if this grain might not be exactly what Barthes meant.  In other words, the same kind of artists said to have duende will also have a certain granularquality.  This might be a kind of parlor game:  who has duende?  Who has the grain? Will the same artists end up having both?  (Perhaps not...) For me, for example, Pau Casals' cello has that itwhich is lacking in Yo-Yo Ma.  Ma is a magnificent player, of course, but, to use Barthes's terminology, he remains a little too much at the level of the phenotext.  Here they are playing the Bach cello suites [musical examples].                
There are very few concepts in literary theory that have address the materiality of performance.  Materiality and corporality are tricky concepts, since they lend themselves easily to metaphorical appropriations that, in essence, dematerialize them once again by reducing them to certain ideological positions.  These concepts are also subject to excessively romantic readings, in that the body is meant to stand for a kind of authenticity that stands apart from culture.  In reality, conceptions of the body are themselves culturally contingent, in other words, unimaginable outside of the particular cultural frames in which they are inscribed, as Wittgenstein might argue, and the examples of Barthes and Lorca demonstrate.  As I completed my forthcoming book on the influence of Lorca on poetry of the U.S., I become convinced that Lorca's duendecould not be applied as a theoretical concept to any other cultural context:  the new context (in this case the United States) alters the meaning of the original concept so as to make it unrecognizable.  There is no American duende, then, that is meaningfully Lorquian.  Yet theoretical coinages like the grain de la voixand the duendehave a certain suggestive elasticity that makes people want to apply them somewhat recklessly across cultural boundaries.    
Where is this line of research headed?  In the first place, toward a theory of the performance of poetry.   We tend to think of any potential performance of a poem as an after-thought, and therefore of aspects like timbre and rhythm as inessential or ornamental.   The articles collected in Charles Bernstein's edited volume Close Listeningproposes an alternative or supplement to the traditional concept of close reading, so I am building on foundation already established by other poets and critics. One example from my own research is a forthcoming article on Claudio Rodríguez, where I look seriously at rhythm.  If I were to apply Barthes concepts to Rodríguez I would be looking at  the pronunciation of certain consonants, like the intervocalic in words like vida, along with the use of a particular intonational melody, and the granular character of his voice.  These elements do not help me, necessarily, to better interpret his poems.  At the same time, they point us toward something that might be even more important than this hermeneutic task (audio example).   
The performance of poetry is bound up with musical concepts, or, more precisely, in concepts that have their other most significant manifestations in music. We can talk about other things having rhythm, but we still think of poetry and music as the paradigmatic cases of rhythm. So too with tone quality or timbre. Language (speech) and music are where we look for these things, and so writing that seems to be about music (as in Wittgenstein, Barthes, and Lorca) might actually at least as much about poetry than about music itself.  
A final point I would like to leave you with is that Cultural Studies needs to be pay closer attention to the material and formal aspects of cultural texts, rather than seeing poems and songs primarily as documents of issues defined mostly in political terms.  Barthes and Lorca suggest a way to begin to think about the "aesthetics of cultural studies" (Bérubé) in relation to cultural practices situated within particular cultural contexts.           


Works Cited
Barthes, Roland. Image -  Music - Text.  Trans. Stephen Heath.  New York: Hill and Wang, 1977.  
Bérubé, Michael, ed.  The Aesthetics of Cultural Studies.  Malden, Mass.:  Blackwell, 2005.  
Bernstein, Charles, ed.  Close Listening:  Poetry and the Performed Word.  New York: Oxford UP, 1998.     
Cogan, Robert.  "Toward a Theory of Timbre: Verbal Timbre and Musical Line in Purcell, Sessions, and Stravinsky." Perspectives of New Music8: 1 (Autumn - Winter, 1969):  75-8.  
García Lorca, Federico.  Conferencias.  Granada: Huerta de San Vicente, 2001.   
Sontag, Susan. Against Interpretation.   New York: FSG, 1966.  
Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology, and Religious Belief.  Ed. Cyril Barrett.  Berkeley: U of California P, 1967.        

[i]I am simplifying Lorca's argument, which brings in a third term, the ángel, alongside the musa, and the duende.    


I just read my book Pristine again. It is excellent.  I wish someone would publish it but for that I would have to submit it. It is a book of false Latin American poets.  I made them all heterosexual men, I realize. I guess that would be even worse from the cultural appropriation standpoint, if I had tried to write in a woman's voice as well!

Although the voices are supposed to be different, they really aren't. They are all me in my bad poetry mode.

Superpowers for non-adults

Children have some awesome powers too. Curiosity, enthusiasm. In some cases, concentration for long periods of time. Some have generosity or equanimity, or an unwillingness to accept unsatisfactory answers. For some things, an adult with enormous skill had to have begun as a child.

When I read the poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" when I was a kid, I knew there was something there. Poems like that, or Blake's "Ah Sunflower." If responding to something with enthusiasm is a superpower, I had that. Also with Beethoven's Pastorale symphony when I was twelve, or Art Tatum. The beauty of nature at my grandfather's horse ranch.

When I say adult superpowers, then, I don't mean that they have to wait for a mature age. A full appreciation of them, though, might be a mature attitude.

Superpowers for adults

A childlike imagination is attracted to superpowers like bullet-proof skin or invisibility. Adult superpowers are generosity, sobriety, persistence, or attention--or anything else in this category that you might want to add. These are qualities that can be cultivated deliberately. The real superpower is the belief that one can cultivate these skills, along with a little bit of commitment to actually doing so. For example, I have learned that being happy for other people's successes is a great thing to aspire to. Some people do this naturally, and that is wonderful, but some people seem to think that others' achievements take away from theirs. I have been like that in the past to some degree but that is something that can be changed.

I would say meditation itself is not a superpower, but a way of enabling other powers to come into being. Playing or composing music on the piano is not a superpower, but the belief that one could do this might be.  I am not thinking here of particular skills, but of a generally skillful approach to thinking about life. I am attracted by what I have read about meditation and the concept of skillful thinking. There is real pleasure in having an unskillful thought and then letting it go rather than dwelling on it.

Today, while running, I thought to myself that I wasn't a very good runner. I quickly saw that it was unskilled because it wasn't based on anything useful and wasn't beneficial in any way. I was running 6 minute kilometers which is very good, for me. I could imagine a faster runner coming from behind and leaving me in the dust, but that inner conversation sounds pointless to me.

I call my inner critic "Boris," after the villain in the old Bullwinkle cartoons...

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Dream of "Instructions for Living"

In this dream I was with the Friday night dinner group. We were at some kind of park or campground. Someone asked me to write a text similar to what I had done the week before, something like "Instructions of Living."  Apparently it had contributed to the success of someone's political campaign and had been a huge hit. Someone gave me instructions about including well wishes for a particular football team as well. I was handed a small piece of paper. I tried to find someplace to sit, but everyone was smoking and I had to go to the edge of the park. My daughter had written some notes on the paper like "do the right thing" and "prefer peace to war," but I couldn't remember how to write the particular kind of text that I was being asked to write.  


Earlier in the night I was with Ray Charles, and he was explaining his vocal technique, saying that in whatever he sang there was a "buzz." My daughter had had a traumatic incident that had shaken her confidence to the core. I was trying to figure out what it was in order to help her recover he otherwise unshakable resilience. It came out that there had been an incident of gender discrimination against her. I worked hard to bolster her confidence again.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Dream of Cummings Rebus

In this dream I carefully deciphered a rebus-poem by E.E. Cummings. The message was written in the form of a clock, so to say, for example, hate you would put an h in front of a clock hand pointing to 8:00. The message was "I hate Miami, I love New Orleans." I wanted to show a friend of mine what I had done but he had just gotten out of the shower and wasn't interested. I was surprised that I had been reading this poem all my life, but had never bothered to look at it closely enough to see what it meant.

Friday, September 6, 2019

No magic number

How many miles should you run every day?  Probably the answer will be "it depends." Who are you, why are you running, what do you hope to get out of the run? What are you training for? For me, it will be not running at all (a recovery day) or 3 miles, or 1-2 miles. Or a longer run / walk of 4 miles. Each of these runs has its particular purpose, but the larger purpose is to be a runner, in other words, to establish that as a habit.

In the same way, the idea of every day writing the same number of words is a bit arbitrary. If you asked me how many words you should write a day, I would first ask what your project is, when you want to finish it, what research you've already done, and what you want to do in a particular session of writing. For me, it will be between 0 and 700 words. If I really sit down to write for an hour and a half (not revise something already written), I will do about 500 words.  But there is no magic number here. What is important is the continuity of effort over a long stretch of time in pursuit of a tangible goal.