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Topic: What does it mean to be a 21st Century Composer?

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  1. #11

    Re: What does it mean to be a 21st Century Composer?

    I've been a professional musician all of my life (53yrs old). I must very strongly state that being an artist and working professionally in todays culture are almost completely at odds. The best, deepest musicians I know do not make much money from their greatness. They make their money doing things that are fairly light and meaningless. Professional means more than making money from composing in my book. I write "string quartets" for my soul. I perform and work in the studios for money.

    Regardless of the timeframe or style of a composer, it is the truth that one speaks that make one an artist.

  2. #12
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    Re: What does it mean to be a 21st Century Composer?

    I usually stay clear of debate topics as the essentials usually boil down to personal opinion as to what one thinks is good/bad ect. It is human nature and the one thing that has not changed in history.Debates can continue endlessly over such things, as again has always been the case with history. However this topic seems to be stearing clear of that so far!


    My curiosity on this was peaked when I thought about improvisation. It is one of the things I love and have done for ages. But do people consider this a form of composition since it is not written down? It certainly is "creation". However unlike sitting and thinking about something, this form of creation is spontanous. There is no time to sit and think about something, nor write it down, as that would entail a screw up in a live situation!. So is the improviser a composer ? A good question to ask oneself.
    Robert Davis

  3. #13

    Re: What does it mean to be a 21st Century Composer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonny Lost
    What does it mean to be a 21st Century Composer? It's a theoritical question that I've been pondering myself for quite a while.

    If you look back over the past 400 years, you see the role of the composer change dramatically. They go from being servants in the 18th century; to larger than life "media" personalities in the 19th century; to Mathematically minded expansionists in the 20th. What will our role ultimately be? There are no right or wrong answers.
    I'm not sure the role of the composer has actually changed that dramatically. Perhaps the means by which the famous ones composed music, but even then saying "they go from being servants in the 18th century, etc." is very generalizing. Likewise you could say the role of music itself has changed, but I don't think it has in the sense that the reasons people enjoy listening to music in the first place haven't changed.

    That said, I don't think being a Nth Century Composer has any significant general meaning.

    Perhaps it could have a personal meaning if the composer thinks the century in which he lives is a significant aspect of what he's trying to accomplish with his music.
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  4. #14

    Re: What does it mean to be a 21st Century Composer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cantabile
    So is the improviser a composer ? A good question to ask oneself.
    Of course! My guess is that the brain uses the same processes for general composition and improvisation. After all, I think general composition itself is based on the fruits of improvisation. Improvisation is the act merely spitting out the brain's output, while general composition tends to include embellishing and polishing the brain's output after it is spat out.
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  5. #15

    Re: What does it mean to be a 21st Century Composer?

    Improvisation in the context of composing is as stated earlier, a means to get a looser more flowing statement that later can be "cleaned up". Improvisation in the context of playing with other improvisors captures a moment of human colaboration that can only happen once. That to me is the beauty of improvisation. Composing on the other hand is more like creating a (hopefully) beautifully balanced sound machine or sculpture.

    The contemporary composer should have the skills and techniques available from the past development of the art. It is ridiculous to say that a 21st century composer is anyone composing in the 21st century! Have you heard some of the "compositions" of the people using programs like GPO to elaborate and lift their "new age" meanderings?

    I know I'm strongly opinionated. I hope I only contributed to the topic and didn't discourage anyone from creating what is true for them.

  6. #16

    Re: What does it mean to be a 21st Century Composer?

    "The contemporary composer should have the skills and techniques available from the past development of the art. It is ridiculous to say that a 21st century composer is anyone composing in the 21st century! Have you heard some of the "compositions" of the people using programs like GPO to elaborate and lift their "new age" meanderings?"

    I'm not clear what you meant. It's impossible to have the skills available from the past development of the art and of course the techniques are available. I also believe one man's meanderings are another man's art. You also say it's ridiculous to say that a 21st century composer is anyone composing in the 21st century, but that's exactly what it is. You're assuming a level of knowledge or achievement (such as a doctor receiving his diploma) where it does not apply (fortunately or unfortunately)

  7. #17

    Re: What does it mean to be a 21st Century Composer?

    Hey guys,


    I'm glad to see so many interesting thoughts and comments on this topic. I'll admit, it is a very controversal one, depending on how you view composition.

    "The contemporary composer should have the skills and techniques available from the past development of the art."

    I agree to this statement only as far as saying you have to know what has come before. Also, I believe that in order to "break the rules" and do whatever you feel like, "you should know the rules."

    I would say in my own writing, I follow part writing and theoritical rules about 2% of the time. The other 98% is done following what I hear in my head and heart. However, I have the background and knowledge to know when to break a rule, or when to follow my gut? Does that make sense to anyone other than me?

    On the other hand, I can't ignore the power and artistry of many "self-taught" composers. I know people who can write circles around me and have never taken a day of music theory or just basic lessons on an instrument, such as piano and guitar. I myself was once a "self taught" composer before I went to school for Composition. So, I really can't ignore that aspect of the field.

    My father always says one thing to me when we get talking about work. He says, "J.W., it all boils down to one thing, knowing your craft!" Either way you look at it, in my opinion, that's what this all comes down too.

    Let's keep the discussion going.


    Jonny
    For more information, check out www.jonathoncox.com/intro.html

    "The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music they should be taught to love it instead." - Igor Stravinsky

  8. #18
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    Re: What does it mean to be a 21st Century Composer?

    Quote Originally Posted by rickc
    Improvisation in the context of composing is as stated earlier, a means to get a looser more flowing statement that later can be "cleaned up". Improvisation in the context of playing with other improvisors captures a moment of human colaboration that can only happen once.



    I know I'm strongly opinionated. I hope I only contributed to the topic and didn't discourage anyone from creating what is true for them.
    I'm glad you stated that is your opinion on the topic Since most debates about music are. It is only human nature for one's personal preference to reflect their views. If we were all the same then what a bland world it would be! I freely admit that what I think is just my own opinion. Some are not so readily free to admit that. Thanks for admitting this as it will not discourage people from posting on the subject.

    This is where I can put in an opinion. I have heard improvisations that gave me more goosebumps then a well thought out masterwork. Guess this is one of the reasons I find I like Chopin so much compared to most romantic composers. His music tends to have a "spontanous" feel alot of the time.
    Robert Davis

  9. #19

    Re: What does it mean to be a 21st Century Composer?

    Rules again! Remember that even though music can come from the heart or whatever, that doesn't mean it's not using theoritical rules. You don't have to be conscious of them for them to be part of your work.

    Quote Originally Posted by rickc
    The contemporary composer should have the skills and techniques available from the past development of the art.
    That's assuming the art has a set direction in which it's working towards, which it does not. In other words, contemporary artists are under no obligation to study or learn from previoius artists. (Be sure to read that carefully. ) Unless of course I misunderstand your words.
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  10. #20

    Re: What does it mean to be a 21st Century Composer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonny Lost

    I agree to this statement only as far as saying you have to know what has come before. Also, I believe that in order to "break the rules" and do whatever you feel like, "you should know the rules."


    My father always says one thing to me when we get talking about work. He says, "J.W., it all boils down to one thing, knowing your craft!"

    Jonny
    I agree completely and that is what I was trying to say. The question was, "What does it mean to be a 21st century composer" I presumed that the question was put in the context of the development of music. In that sense certain writings done in the 21st century may have no connection at all to the development of the art up until now. If a scientist is rehashing work done by 5th century scientists because that is as far as his understanding of science goes, is he a 21st century scientist?

    Also being self taught and being ignorant of modern techniques are not exclusive of one another. Many a devoted self taught musician has created brilliant works. The emphasis here should be on the word "taught".

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