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Composers - time for truths!

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Old 13-03-09, 06:07 PM
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Default Composers - time for truths!

Composers on this board!

I can imagine to bear let's say the conception of Hamlet in my mind as an artist, or soleil levant as an idea - I entirely fail to understand how to bear music in my mind as a composer. To hear the music before writing it. To have all these different sound tastes in my mind.
Therefore my question: how have you started? As a child writing fugues in C? Or later? There're so many different musical role models - which was your first orientation?

It's an entire mystery for me, I grew up with music, studied an instrument, but if you'd give me a Mahler score, I'd just be able to hear two or three voices (with a little bit of imagination a kind of shadow of the rest) - so, what was your start?

I suppose you've started far earlier than your university times, what had been your aids for development? Was there a firsthand direction you wanted to go musically?
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Old 13-03-09, 10:13 PM
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Dear Misha,

I will endeavor to answer this question, but a path such as this is filled with many tangents, but there are pertinent moments that have had profound impact on my choice to compose.

Although my parents weren't particularly "musical", they had great love for music, and introduced me to many instruments. They always encouraged me to explore the musical and the creative.

When I was 12, I played in a fairly good concert band (at least for my age). I can remember a single moment in rehearsal where I and my trombone colleague were playing a chord - the notes Eb and G. We locked in the intonation, and the sound just exploded - I became aware of the "major 3rd" as a perfect entity, capable on its own to have a profound expressiveness. In essence, I was awakened to the power of a single sound, the power of a simple interval. And I wanted to experience this again and again.

Perhaps this isn't the beginning of a composer, but it is an important beginning of a passion for music. I went from liking music to adoring it. And, why did this 3rd sound so good? I was curious.

Also, in this band, I would often scoot around to different instruments and try to play their part. Why did the sax sound so different than I? Of course, this was transposition, but I worked it out on my own, and learned to transpose at sight in Bb, Eb, and F. This was like training to know intervals.

The first composing shortly followed, but was mostly just transcribing pop songs - not original but ear training. Soon, I realized I wanted to hear only certain parts of songs, so I would just transcribe them and repeat them etc. I didn't have a piano till a few years later, so all was worked out in my head.

Eventually, at around 15 years of age, I started composing my own music (perhaps because of my nature to want to be in control!), which was still rooted in other pieces (I was infatuated with Shostakovitch at the time). So, I wrote orchestral music. When, at 16, we got a piano, the writing became more possible, as I could experiment on the piano.

I wrote a few things in high school + did some transcriptions of piano pieces for chamber orchestra. I was lucky in that one of my best friends was a composer. His music was very inspirational for me, as it showed me that one could be a composer, someone like me. Also, I began to become a prolific score studier, and went through many Shostakovitch, Tchaikovsky, and Bach pieces. Instead of paying attention in my classes, I would study scores, and then when I got home, crank my stereo - did it sound like I thought it would?

I did decide to go into music at University, but as a trombonist. Once I arrived at University, and was immersed in a musical environment, I became friends with many composers - simply put, they were some of the most interesting people - I loved to hear them talk about how they put together their music. I wrote in my first semester a cello sonata and a work for symphonic band. After the wind ensemble piece was played, I realized that this was what I wanted to do - it was a very intense experience, as I did not attend any rehearsals - just showed up and they performed my music with over 100 players on stage! I applied and was accepted into the composition program for a double major, and have never looked back.

In summary, when someone asks me how I do it, I say "practice"! It is a skill like any. One must be disciplined, just like playing an instrument. So, ultimately, the reason I "can" compose is because I want to compose and was willing to put in the work to do it.

And I am still obsessed with the major 3rd!

(btw, sorry i've been off berg - it's just such a huge piece to decipher, but, we will get back to that soon)
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Old 14-03-09, 07:21 AM
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Thanks a lot for your extensive answer. Again! I'll take advantage of it with three other questions:

What is your approach concerning a new piece, what is an inspiration? Do you have the entire structure or flow in mind before you start writing it down? Which are decisions which are made during or after writing (orchestration etc.)? Or to make my point clearer: given James Ehnes asks you for a violin concerto. After you finished the champagne with your wife, what is your agenda?

Given the endless opportunities of sound, how often do you experience, that you listen to music from other cultures and find suddenly a certain sound you fall in love with and which you want to integrate immediately? From what I read about Claude Vivier, he was kind of lost in all his journeys in this search like a painter who is confronted with new colors every day.

And last but not least: in the conservatory-education today modern music is still pretty much neglected. If you see it from a technical point of view, the way of playing modern music is rather different to let's say a 19th century caprice. Talking about violinists the core studies are from the 19th century designed to teach technical & musical issues of the 19th century. The technical demandings of the 20th century are different of course and though there're some etude works, they are hardly ever teached. So what you get is 20th century played with the technique and technical logic of the 19th century. Do you experience this? - I could imagine this often might sound for modern composers like Brahms played Baroque style.

This should even more apply to brass and woods with all these new techniques.

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(btw, sorry i've been off berg - it's just such a huge piece to decipher, but, we will get back to that soon)
I'm in the middle of a little Berg campaign, I ordered loads of books about him, analyses and scores for his music. It's such a multi-layered joy for me! I'm looking more than forward to get more informations from you! If you want to you: you suggested the Weber-Variationen für Orchester recently. There're quite a lot of his pieces I really enjoy (though it's never love at first sight. One date after the other, but worth the efforts). Anyway - the Variationen keep to be a mystery to me. I'd love to learn about it structurally!
[ame="http://www.brightcecilia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1438"]Webern - Variationen f?rchester op. 30 - Brightcecilia Classical Music Forums[/ame]

And I'm seriously grateful for the efforts you make!
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Old 17-03-09, 06:39 AM
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Thanks a lot for your extensive answer. Again! I'll take advantage of it with three other questions:
Please, please! A chance to talk about myself and what I think!?! Well, I'm all too eager! Also, putting these concepts into words helps me understand with more clarity what I am doing, so, thank YOU for asking the questions.

Let's get to it!

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What is your approach concerning a new piece, what is an inspiration? Do you have the entire structure or flow in mind before you start writing it down? Which are decisions which are made during or after writing (orchestration etc.)? Or to make my point clearer: given James Ehnes asks you for a violin concerto. After you finished the champagne with your wife, what is your agenda?
(funny you mention James - we just "shared" a concert - he's a great player and a very sweet man)
This is of course, a huge question. It is something that has and continues to endlessly evolve from piece to piece. But, I will give a thorough yet general answer I can: (and sorry for the rambling, vague, tangential quality of this answer - it is a very tricky question to address! I have given 2 hour lectures on how I have just approached 1 piece!!!)

1. no matter what I have decided at the onset, anything can change!

2. the first most important concept to establish at the start is WHO and WHEN and after WHY? Once these are established, then I can move onto WHAT and HOW. This is often very different for other composers, and was different for the first 16 or so years of my composing life. It is the emphasis on WHY that has made the most difference in how I approach composing now.

3. The WHY can take many forms. It could be "compose a virtuoso violin concerto" to start. But that just isn't enough for me anymore. I need something else, and of late, I have looked towards non musical subjects as a point of inspiration. These have included books "Babbitt" - Sinclair Lewis - Sax concerto, and "The Shock Doctrine" - Naomi Kline - solo improvising trombone + electric guitar + chamber orchestra, or art such as "The Kiss" - Rodin - orchestral piece, poetry such as "I died for Beauty, But Was Scarce" - Emily Dickinson - trumpet concerto. I composed a work called "Cry" that was inspired by my baby crying mixed with my anxiety over the world that we were passing onto him and his future (in other words, not so good...). None of these WHY's were imposed on me, but, I imposed them on myself. (btw, ever since this has been my approach, my program notes have gotten much more interesting!)

Sometimes WHY's are imposed. I have composed for many occasions - or for remembrance - or for a text setting. I wont go into more detail, as I'm sure you can understand this kind of implication.

4. Analyze the WHY, and consider the WHO. Who for me is not just about the performers but the audience as well. Yes, I will say this very openly that the audience does have an effect on what I compose. If I am writing for a "new music" concert, well, I like to go quite edgy and abstract, for that is what is expected. But, if it a "typical" orchestra audience, I scale the language into more familiar terrain. If it is a community choir, then often very conservative. (although, sometimes a very abstract work is suitable for a "regular" concert/even experience - all factors need to be weighed). To my mind this is not selling out - it is simply doing my job (so you know, Bach is my greatest source, and he always new how to do his job, and when to experiment with exceptional professionalism and artistry). I love music in all it's forms, and have no problem (philosophically that is) with pushing the creativity in the direction most suited to the occasion. No matter what the language, I always strive for originality, and modern sensibilities always touch my music even at it's most conservative. But, back to WHY. The question I ask is what do these WHY's mean to me, and how can I manifest my thoughts about them into musical sound? This is when I start to merge into the WHAT. Of course, what makes this so fun (and I absolutely love composing!) is that each WHY is so different - it's own challenge to my creativity and skill. At this point, the main focus is form and flow as you had suggested. But, any other thoughts are allowed to come in, like brain storming. I now keep a note pad for each piece, and carry it everywhere I go. Any ideas are welcome - an orchestration, a harmony, a melody - or perhaps some verbal notions - whatever - let it flow unrestricted. Sometimes I just scribble down gestures in graphic form. It is all useful to build the music.

5. Now is when it gets tricky to explain - the WHAT and HOW, which are of course intricately linked. For me it tends to jump back and forth between these two - since both effect each other, it is something that is constantly evolving. But, I am a stickler for technique, so, will spend the time to try and find the best solution that results in a satisfying result on both fronts. If the HOW is not working on all levels, then the WHAT, no matter how "nice" it sounds, will fail over time in multiple listenings. I think I found this especially pertinent as my music became more and more stylistically diverse - between pieces or even in one work. Early experiments in this kind of "post-modern" way of approaching composition often failed in the HOW, even though the WHAT sounded ok - in the end, these early works failed to feel like complete concepts - whole and unified. I think a rigorous HOW focuses the mind for a better product.

But, a little more on that in your next question!

6. Then, it is the actual composing of notes into a score. But, none of these earlier procedures goes away - they exist in tandem - developed, but not final. I have scraped huge amounts of music because when I got well into this stage, it just wasn't working. But I do not consider this any kind of failure (although this can cause quite a bit of stress on the time table when the deadline is approaching - I once scraped the ending of an orchestral work 2 days before the absolute last deadline! So, 36 hours of composing later, and I had a way way better ending, and the 4th performance of that piece is coming up next week, and I hope for many more, so, I'm glad I spent the time or I would have to endure another performance of a substandard product).

Whatever happens is simply the process that was needed to write that piece.

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Originally Posted by Mischa View Post
Given the endless opportunities of sound, how often do you experience, that you listen to music from other cultures and find suddenly a certain sound you fall in love with and which you want to integrate immediately? From what I read about Claude Vivier, he was kind of lost in all his journeys in this search like a painter who is confronted with new colors every day.
I feel the same way. Inspiration is to be found everywhere. And not just in sound.

For instance, yesterday we had a double family day - my 2 boys (1 and 3) + my friends 2 girls (2,and 4). When left to their owe device in a room full of toys, the resulting"counterpoint" between their interactions and independant play was incredibly interesting - I thought it would be neat to video it, and then compose a piece with 4 thematic strands weaving around in relation to what they did. Just a quick thought, but, maybe...

Of course, the manifestation of an inspiration into a piece of music is a big task. Something that helps me cope (ha ha) is that any one piece can contain so many different elements of inspiration - to find what links everything together. The key is to find how these various ideas, concepts etc can co-exist with sonic and structural cohesion. Something I do quite a bit of is improvisation - on my own or with others. In this exercise, so many ideas can be explored and bounced off one-another. It's like a big laboratory for sound. I am always amazed at the kinds of sounds that can be achieved in an improvisation setting. I have improvised with many different cultural, genre, age, technique, and attitude musicians. And what I have learned is that anything CAN work - but not will work.

And, to bring back Mr. Berg issues, I have found tone row technique very useful to find a way to relate differing musical concepts together under one common theoretical/pitch based blanket. Also aleotoric rhythmic notations can also be helpful in integrating diverse musical ideas. So many of the complexities inherent in differencing world musics are hand-cuffed in traditional rhythmic notation - free it up and magic can happen.

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And last but not least: in the conservatory-education today modern music is still pretty much neglected. If you see it from a technical point of view, the way of playing modern music is rather different to let's say a 19th century caprice. Talking about violinists the core studies are from the 19th century designed to teach technical & musical issues of the 19th century. The technical demandings of the 20th century are different of course and though there're some etude works, they are hardly ever teached. So what you get is 20th century played with the technique and technical logic of the 19th century. Do you experience this? - I could imagine this often might sound for modern composers like Brahms played Baroque style.

This should even more apply to brass and woods with all these new techniques.
Whenever discussions about music conservatories come up, I always feel that it is dangerous to generalize. Really, so much of this depends on who the teachers are. A handful of people can make all the difference. (oh, and before I continue, it is often better for winds and brass as we have more weight in modern repertoir compared to strings and piano, especially a trombonist such as myself)

But yes, I think the main force holding back players from not only learning how to make the right kind of sound, but the pure pleasure in exploring the vast array of the modern cannon, is economics and job prospects. The prime employment most people are shooting for is orchestral gigs, for which modern music plays a very small role (and almost non existant in the audition repertoir - at least that is the case over here). Also, as was pointed out on another forum (about Perlman playing Messiaen), the chamber world is even more stifling.

I was lucky in that I ended up doing my undergraduate performance degree at a very progressive school - Eastman. There, modern music concerts were the hottest ticket! It was a privilege to play in Musica Nova. Composers always had diligent and attentive performances of their works (well, almost always!). Yes, there were sticks in the mud as far as teachers are concerned. But for the most part, there was a very healthy attitude towards modern music practice.

It wasn't quite as good at the University of Toronto, but there were of course a number of devoted teachers to the art and appreciation of modern music. For instance, my teacher Gary Kulesha was also an excellent conductor, and ran the contemporary music ensemble, and taught a course on performing modern rep to undergraduates. One person can make a big difference to many students.

This topic is really huge (like, why do so many people play Bach like it is Brahms?! I find this crime far more often than the opposite - but, it's for the same reason as modern music - the majority of economic activity is focused around the romantic tradition), and hopefully it will come up again - maybe a forum devoted to musical education. But, I think I have over stayed my welcome for now!

Scott
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Old 20-03-09, 06:20 AM
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I'm terribly sorry that I answer that lately, the last days had been pretty busy, and I didn't wanted to reply with a rush oneliner.

What an ample and personal reply, you wrote! Simply awesome!

Great, let's go on composing our little theoretical violin concerto (a Naomi Klein background would be highly appreciated for it!). Once you have figured out the WHY & WHO and start composing: from what you wrote there're (of course) a lot of unanswered questions. Now that you have a general idea and enough material, what is your general tendency in developing the composition: vertical (orchestra) or horizontal (violin)? Does one thing affects the other in your imagination anyway already or do you build the orchestra around the solo voice?

Given that you already collected a lot of musical ideas, moments and fragments for the concerto, you'll have taken the instrument into account of course as a huge part of the HOW. A lot of ideas will had been dropped already, since they do not seem to be suitable for the violin. Tricky to write in English, but can you word, what fits the bill concerning the instrument? Is it just a feeling or can it be expressed? I mean, it's a bit of a trap not to fall into sound clichés.
(Of course, this is pretty subjective, but there're really dozens of concerti, where you get the idea, they come out of the composer's tool kit (Violin concerto? Lyrical - nasty, violent double stop passages - lyrical - applause). A sort of Cary Grant moment, watching one actor playing in different movies, but playing the very same character again and again.)
So what are your composition-technical thoughts about an instrument you take into account during your work? What will make your concerto especially violinistic?

Talking about Bach! Which is a passage springing immediately to your mind, where you are as a composer especially stunned about his skills. I'd love to learn more about that! Let's say a passage of "Kunst der Fuge" - what is that amazing in that passage? I'd love to load up the score and music to understand it.

Since I'm pretty busy these days, I can possibly not answer directly. I really hope, you don't misinterprete it as discourtesy or missing interest. I tremendously enjoy to learn more about composing and they way composers work. Thanks a lot!
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Old 24-03-09, 09:12 PM
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I can imagine to bear let's say the conception of Hamlet in my mind as an artist, or soleil levant as an idea - I entirely fail to understand how to bear music in my mind as a composer. To hear the music before writing it.
For me at least, it's like aural dictation. Dictation obviously doesn't happen in real time: it's all about learning to expand one's musical memory, so you can hold longer portions of music in your head. That, of course, is just memory, and everyone remembers music they listen to.

Personally, some things appear ex nihilo, whereas other ideas come from a sudden realisation of an interesting combination of things one has heard, a priori ideas, or things adventitiously discovered when improvising.

Obviously it's not all that easy... particularly when writing for orchestra I really have to put a lot of thought into how things will proceed. Since I work straight onto paper (no crappy software involved), I really must 'try' to imagine how I want things to sound, exploiting everything I know about particular effects and instrumental balances that I have learnt. There's still a long way to go.



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how have you started? As a child writing fugues in C? Or later? There're so many different musical role models - which was your first orientation?
I started messing around with chords on the guitar (although actually my first guitar teacher, when I asked him to teach me chords, simply told me to go on the internet. I was ten at the time and we had no computer at home. So I was only taught to pick out tunes.)
Eventually I bought a book and pretty quickly learnt a lot of harmony and theory and got bored with the limited harmony of rock and pop, so started stringing together my own strange harmonic progressions, as well as listening to a lot of modern and avant-garde classical music and Romantic piano music - mainly Liszt and Chopin. Still, for a long time my thought was exclusively harmonic (and I really mean just block chords with not the slightest attention payed to voice leading) ... and then came Bach.
In my music, however, the harmonic aspect is still the daddy of counterpoint.
I never had a role model. I just loved writing down music, and in fact got caught doing so in many classes at school.




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It's an entire mystery for me, I grew up with music, studied an instrument, but if you'd give me a Mahler score, I'd just be able to hear two or three voices (with a little bit of imagination a kind of shadow of the rest) - so, what was your start?
I'm not sure what the maximum number of polyphonic voices is in Mahler's music and where is occurs... perhaps the third movement of the ninth?
I've taught myself strict counterpoint in up to four voices, though I have books where it goes up to eight. I believe the real value that lies in such things is similar to dictation - the improvement of musical memory (which I believe is essentially what musicianship boils down to) and the ability to superimpose imagined musical lines upon each other.

Most music, even orchestral music, is not actually that countrapuntal. Some pages of orchestral score look dense, scary and intricate, as in towards the end of the opening of the Rite of Spring, which has been called by Walter Piston a 'tapestry of sound'... which to some extent avoids the old categorisation of homophony, polyphony etc.
Really it's like a combination of heterophony and polyphony.

But... generally, the music is in one's head before it's on the page. Generally, one of the most problematic things I find when having a harmonic background in one's head is how to put this down orchestrally - trying to make interesting the 'filling in' parts, the stuff that's not immediately apparent but were it to disappear, you'd notice. Interesting arrangements that disguise what is essentially a simple idea, whilst at the same time not sacrificing clarity, is something towards which I aim.
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Old 24-03-09, 11:32 PM
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I'm terribly sorry that I answer that lately, the last days had been pretty busy, and I didn't wanted to reply with a rush oneliner.
Hey, no worries...me too!

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What an ample and personal reply, you wrote! Simply awesome!
I'm just happy you are enjoying - and I am having fun trying to put these ideas into words!

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Great, let's go on composing our little theoretical violin concerto (a Naomi Klein background would be highly appreciated for it!). Once you have figured out the WHY & WHO and start composing: from what you wrote there're (of course) a lot of unanswered questions. Now that you have a general idea and enough material, what is your general tendency in developing the composition: vertical (orchestra) or horizontal (violin)? Does one thing affects the other in your imagination anyway already or do you build the orchestra around the solo voice?
Unfortunately, there is no suitable general answer (hence the vagary of my previous post). But I will try to give a few notions on this.

At the point of reaching the WHY and WHO, the sketches would develop from there, not in spite of it. What I am saying is that any concepts would already be thought of in terms of the violin and the orchestra. Perhaps you might be thinking that I would separate the notes and theory from the music, but for me, the theory is there to support and relate the music.

Everything effects everything else. A harmony is an orchestration - it is a "sound" that functions in relation to other sounds surrounding it. A melody is a chord - this is the mode of the music - it's harmonic and melodic quality are completely linked. The violin exists with the orchestra, not separate - they are the characters of the story (there is no Rosencrantz without Guildenstern) They always relate to each other - each note in the violin contextualizes each note in the orchestra, and vice versa.. A verticle concept is a horizontal concept. Once again, this comes from a very strong influence of tone row concepts.

So, I have to immerse myself into the sound world of the violin concerto. Every instrument is waiting in the wings, ready to play their crucial part! Understand that I love all of the instruments, so, I treat each like a good friend, and an important player with their own role in the story. I will spend some time contemplating the 2nd oboe...do they have substance in the work? Did the 4th horn support the entire woodwind section - where is their "moment in the sun"? Do the violas feel like a viola, not a 3rd violin - why are they special in my piece? etc etc. I am also very into orchestra geography - where one sits and how they relate to the whole. For those of you who have never sat in an orchestra, I can tell you that it sounds very different depending on what part you are playing.

I really don't think enough composers think about this, and write the music as if machines were playing it - not people with ears and imaginations.

An extra thought - think of the Berg concerto - why is the row the way it is? For it's own sake? No, it is designed to facilitate all of the essential elements of the composition - and, the row is structured around the open strings of the violin! It is a violin concerto 12 tone row, and no other.

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Given that you already collected a lot of musical ideas, moments and fragments for the concerto, you'll have taken the instrument into account of course as a huge part of the HOW. A lot of ideas will had been dropped already, since they do not seem to be suitable for the violin. Tricky to write in English, but can you word, what fits the bill concerning the instrument? Is it just a feeling or can it be expressed? I mean, it's a bit of a trap not to fall into sound clichés.
This is tricky, as clichés are this way for a reason - they work! My hope is that if I use a cliche technique or gesture, that it is in a unique place that fully suits the nature of my piece. I do not obsess on being completely original, as I truly believe this is either impossible, or absolutely guaranteed. What I am trying to say is that I have never seen two works that are the same, nor have I ever seen a work that every element is original. So, all works are both original and copies

But...the violin...no "lightweight" considerations here. So many great concertos and sonatas and solo works. Some of my favorite pieces are written for this instrument (Bach Chaconne, Shostakovitch concerto #1, Vivaldi 4 seasons, Bartok #2, Scelsi Anahit...). I think that what I would try to do is live in this time - what does it mean to be a composer now? And just strive to find my own voice. It is a "postmodern" era, no matter what one feels about it, and I embrace this as a natural reaction to what came before it, as all artistic "evolutions" have. What I am trying to say is that even if I use a technique from the past, a cliche, I am writing it now, and since I allow so many different influences into my music, I just don't worry about it being over used, because it's context within my own music will be something that has never been done before. I'm not trying to sound pompous, just how my critical mind works - there are just things that I do not concern myself with much, and pastiche and cliche are two of them. I am very concerned with quality, balance, emotion, and beauty.

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(Of course, this is pretty subjective, but there're really dozens of concerti, where you get the idea, they come out of the composer's tool kit (Violin concerto? Lyrical - nasty, violent double stop passages - lyrical - applause). A sort of Cary Grant moment, watching one actor playing in different movies, but playing the very same character again and again.)
Yes, but Cary Grant did Cary Grant very well, eh!

I think I know what you mean about the composers tool box. Might I suggest that the real problem is they simply didn't search enough. I think there should be blood and sweat behind every work - you should be putting yourself on the line, exposing your innermost thoughts and desires. If you simply read a recipe, you will never be a chef. At least, not in this era.

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Originally Posted by Mischa View Post
So what are your composition-technical thoughts about an instrument you take into account during your work? What will make your concerto especially violinistic?
Well, a big thing for me is not so much what the violin is, but rather what do I feel about it (which I guess is what you are asking). This is very hard to write about - I adore this instrument, and frankly feel a bit intimidated by it. So light and small, yet so potent. It has tremendous range, dynamics, expressiveness. I am very taken with certain qualities - I love the low G string! I love the "fiddle" music quality. I love the gypsy bending and I love the classical clarity. I love it fast, yet it can sustain a high note so clear like a perfect crystal (in the hands of a master, that is!). And then there is all the between the notes - I always think about the quality of the legato when composing for violin. Double stops are not only good for the harmony, but for it's implications to the bow arm.

I am very interested in where the bow is on the string. Trills and tremolo. Pizzicato and strumming.

If I were writing a concerto, all of these qualities would show I can almost guarantee.

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Originally Posted by Mischa View Post
Talking about Bach! Which is a passage springing immediately to your mind, where you are as a composer especially stunned about his skills. I'd love to learn more about that! Let's say a passage of "Kunst der Fuge" - what is that amazing in that passage? I'd love to load up the score and music to understand it.
I am not a scholar of "Kunst der Fuge", but I sure do like #1 and #10!. The opening subject of the collection is to me, the epitome of efficiency, clarity, and purpose.

But, what it is for me is the ultimate guiding light is not a particular piece, but is his life in music - the whole of his output, and that he always was a performer. He was a curious man, open to all kinds of ideas and influences. He was a consummate professional, always looking to fulfill his roles to the best of his ability and time restraints. He revisited many chorals, searching for the best possible counterpoint to express the text. He continuously experimented, and would take on projects outside of his work to explore new terrain. It seems strange to me that he was considered old fashioned. I am not a historian, but in looking at the scores, the richness of influence in his works seems to me coming from someone open to ideas. The main bulk of my research was in studying books 1 and 2 of the WTC, and in particular, the fugues. The breadth of musical concepts outlayed within these tomes is breathtaking, in particular with rhythm. Some are quite experimental, and some are jaunty and playful. Some dance, some sing, some sit, some move. All contain immaculately constructed themes - perfect gems of endless variety.

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Originally Posted by Mischa View Post
Since I'm pretty busy these days, I can possibly not answer directly. I really hope, you don't misinterprete it as discourtesy or missing interest. I tremendously enjoy to learn more about composing and they way composers work. Thanks a lot!
I am considering, in order to have some real substance to this discussion, showing from a previously composed piece how all this works in the notes on the page. Or, perhaps sharing in the process while composing a piece! I have recently started composing a new orchestral work called "Blues'n Riff: The Spectacular Tale of Katy Caboose" which will be premiered at the end of September. The WHY, WHO, and WHEN are sorted, but I am still dealing with the WHAT and HOW. I don't know, what do you think? Would this be interesting or just weird?

As a teaser, here is the tone row I am currently wooing, but not %100 committed to:
G Bb C Db F E B D Ab A F# Eb

Any comments...observations?

Scott
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Old 25-03-09, 12:44 AM
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0 7 6 11 4 2 9 8 1 10 3 5
c g f# b e d a g# c# a# d# f

(I think in numbers not in letters)
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Old 25-03-09, 10:17 AM
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Thank you all for your extensive answers - really highly appreciated! I'll answer later on these days or try to elaborate one or two questions.

Quote:
I am considering, in order to have some real substance to this discussion, showing from a previously composed piece how all this works in the notes on the page. Or, perhaps sharing in the process while composing a piece! I have recently started composing a new orchestral work called "Blues'n Riff: The Spectacular Tale of Katy Caboose" which will be premiered at the end of September. The WHY, WHO, and WHEN are sorted, but I am still dealing with the WHAT and HOW. I don't know, what do you think? Would this be interesting or just weird?
That would be awesome, I'd love to take a look into into the composing process! Let's start as soon as possible, what should I say? Great!
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Old 25-03-09, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Scott Good View Post
I really don't think enough composers think about this, and write the music as if machines were playing it - not people with ears and imaginations.
I blame the rise of the software composer, whose only basis of knowing whether something is permissible is whether the note turns red (i.e. is 'out of range' or 'wrong'). Or at least with 'Sibelius'.

This is supposed to be the short-cut route which removes the need to learn an orchestration text backwards, and hundreds' of hours of listening to orchestral music and studying scores, so that one builds and aural library of orchestral and instrumental sounds. Sounds onerous but the point is it's for the love and devotion to music, and can't be forced.
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