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Everything posted by siwi

  1. Debussy described music as 'the imaginary country; that is to say, the one that can't be found on the map'. This comes close to the reason why I feel the need to write; namely to create something that is an object of fantasy, some kind of landscape that does not really exist in a tactile, material form. I believe that music should not ignore the real world, indeed it is sometimes the strongest way of addressing it, but it justifies its existance by being a means of accessing 'another place' which is otherwise hidden, and so to compose is to give others some experience of one's imagined world. There is an element of fantasy in most music, and this seems to be particularly prominant in many of my works along with a need for drama. I have to have the stimulation of some unpredictability, and so this is something I try to put into my music. Nearly as strong is the desire to leave an impression on others and for my listeners to be stimulated and transported by the music (also something I try to achieve in performance). I also believe that creative, useless acts are what makes us special. I suppose I could, more bluntly, say it's because I have an opinion of what music should sound like, and feel the need to express this in some recognisible form (which probably explains why I am drawn to arranging almost as much: I feel I can almost always 'improve' something existing). And I can't imagine not trying to write notes on the page.
  2. I think what is important to remember is that: firstly; the 'rules' of counterpoint are a classical example of theory following practice. Nobody just decided one day that parallel fifths and unprepared dissonances would henceforth be 'wrong' for all eternity; they simply codified what was generally happening already in vocal writing. There is a practical reason for observing these guidelines, as independent intervals are physically easier to sing than parallel ones (massive generalisation I know, but it was probably true to the 16th century ear). Secondly, as a student one learns these 'rules' precisely because they have been so well codified and so present a starting-point to develop a more individual voice later. Most choral music will observe the principles of this style if it is well-written, even though specific rules may be disregarded.
  3. Tokke has covered most things, but a few other thoughts from my experience: - If the performers are professionals or good amateurs and the repertoire is reasonably straightforward or known to them already, then a rehearsal on the day will suffice. This will probably be about 3-4 hours with a break for an 80-100 minute programme. However ENSURE they have the music in advance. Pros, or amateurs with a professional work ethic, will practice at home until good, meaning that the rehearsal on the concert is only spent getting used to the venue and putting their part together with the other players. - If there are multiple 'acts' or groups in the concert, do not underestimate the time it will take for one group to clear the stage and the other to enter. Press for this to be done as quickly as possible but assume an extra five minutes per concert half nonetheless. You can of course talk whilst this is happening. - Be aware that a sound check is of limited value as the acoustics will change with an audience present. Good techhies will factor this in but it's something to consider if you are doing recording/amplification yourself. - If you are making programme notes and want to introduce a piece in person as well, ensure that what you have to say differs from or enhances what you've written. It's a bit disengaging for you to say out loud what the audience can read straight in front of them. I disagree that programmes are absolutely essential: they are for a formal, 'sit down' concert, but at a less traditional gig - which contemporary music often is - they might not be as appropriate. - I would aim to pay expenses regardless of distance unless you absolutely cannot afford it. If I do a concert for no fee, even in the next town 5 miles away, I am usually offered 'petrol money'/'beer money' by my regular non-fee-paying engagements as they know how much it costs to run a car these days. It will do a lot for goodwill and the musicians will be more likely to help you out again. Alternatively a round of drinks will be about the same value. But dinner is better especially if you know somewhere good.
  4. I've composed a short fugue in C trying to follow the principles set out in this course. If anyone had the time to offer some feedback I'd be very grateful. I am aware that there are some things that need improvement, in particular I'm not happy with one or two bars in the recapitulation and I feel as if I over-use sequences. Link: http://www.youngcomposers.com/music/1667/fugue-in-c/
  5. You're probably right about the second one, but it depends how fast this is going to be. It won't be possible to play this accurately at more than a moderate tempo. Luckily the fingering would allow the player to reach the high Eb on a 2nd finger, then get the thumb ready to stop the Ab. It's not very common to have false harmonics at the fifth, they are not as easy to 'speak' on stringed instruments. Normally they are at the fourth, so the lower note here would be a Bb. The player is also going to need to change bow on the barline. The first one would be possible as long as the instrument and strings were good enough. The interval of an octave is not very far for the hand to reach at such a high range.
  6. Okay, well apart from the use of functional harmony, there are a number of other features: Sonata forms, ternary and rondo structures dominate Texture tends to be primarily melody-and-accompaniment, and counterpoint is limited. Bass figurations and repeated notes in the accompaniment voices are common. Melody is often quite ornate. The 'cascades' you note are melodic decorations such as turns and arpeggiations, whilst the 'out-of-key' notes are little chromatic inflections which are treated as suspensions. Everything tends to be lightly scored, with little doubling of voices. Dissonance still follows the rules of sixteenth-century counterpoint, so is largely confined to suspensions and all must be prepared and resolved. Other devices such as the 'Mannheim rocket' (a rapid upwards melodic gesture); a loud chord or series of chord at the start of a piece or important new section; predominance of major keys; dance forms such as the minuet, gavotte and quadrille replace the older baroque dance rhythms. Note; the above is highly generalised and mainly applies to the early- and mid-classical periods. By the time Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn are writing, these principles are starting to give way to the romantic aesthetic.
  7. I think I can see what you're getting at when you compare the 'impressionist' school with Brahms and Beethoven, but I don't think using terms such as 'willpower' are helpful in describing it. Beethoven and Brahms simply follow an aesthetic which places higher emphasis on elements such as functional harmony, counterpoint and motivic development, whereas the 'impressionist' school tend to emphasise non-functional and synthetic harmony, freer structures and colour/orchestration instead. I don't see how this necessarily constitutes a lack of willpower as you define it above. The fact that the surface style of Debussy seems more rhapsodic and that he avoids traditional structural plans doesn't mean he didn't 'know where he wanted to take the music' or that because it employs delicate orchestration it lacks 'a certain expression of force'. I strongly disagree with this statement if you are using Beethoven and Brahms as examples of 'willpower'. Both of them wrote music that was as thoughtful and delicate in parts as it was forceful and driven in others. Conversely, there is plenty of assertive and even violent music amongst the impressionists' output. The most proficient composers are able to produce both with equal skill. This is mostly wishful thinking based on you own aesthetics. Some people might agree with this interpretation; others, including myself, won't.
  8. I am currently working on a piece for choir and orchestra. As might be expected, this sets a text (three different poems to be precise). I am just curious as to what approach people take when setting a text to music, with regard to how this influences various elements in the composition. Do you, in general, subordinate the purely musical elements (melody, harmony, structure, use of motifs, etc) to the text - allowing its meaning, or its speech-rhythms, or other similar features, to dictate everything -, or do you prefer to write in an more 'abstract' way (i.e. giving priority to the purely musical features listed above) and fit the text around a more non-vocal conception of the work?
  9. Eh? You're going to have to explain in more detail what you mean by 'willpower' and 'directedness' before we can respond to this.
  10. We can't answer this for you, only relate our own preferences. What I can say is not to believe that one or other method holds a distinct advantage over the other. Certain situations will lend themselves to using a computer or not. I sometimes have to because the complexity of a passage reaches a point that I can't imagine it all in my head or play it all on the piano at once: I need the computer playback, however inadequate, to get some idea of whether I want to use the idea in this form. Hearing the crappy playback isn't necessarily a problem if you can override it with the mental knowledge of what the real instrument is going to sound like. On the other hand I find choral music much easier to write at the keyboard because I can see the spacings and movement between voices more clearly than when it's written down. Physically having to click and select notes can waste time too, I find. I'd recommend that you try writing without using Finale, just to see how you feel about it.
  11. You've still misunderstood me on a vital point. I have never been trying to argue that 'Beethoven is better than...' or 'Beethoven has more merit than...', simply that he has some merit or quality in his music, and I define this merit via the fact that some people regard his music as intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging enough to want to hear it of their own free will. So of course I am only confining this to a selected sample, even if this amount represents, in reality, a minority. I only want to prove that a number of people like his music, not that this is more than for another type of music or that these people are somehow superior in taste or some other factor. Of course one couldn't prove such subjective factors scientifically. Beethoven has merit simply because somebody wants to hear it, and they want to hear it because it appeals in some degree to their own, personal, subjective idea of what music should be like. This is all the more remarkable given that the audience he commands still exists today and it has come to his music freely - obviously you can't force someone to like something. I realise this also applies to practically all music - the tween girls like Justin Beiber because he appeals to their subjective ideas of what music should sound like and the act look like. Justin Beiber therefore also contains merit simply on the fact that his audience wants to engage with his output. This hinges on the notion that the purpose of music is to communicate something, which seems like a reasonable argument. We know Beethoven did intend this as his purpose because of what he wrote about his music. All I'm saying is that the merit in Beethoven lies in the fact that an audience still wants to hear his music, and that as he used a certain compositional method I believe this constitutes the success of this method. It doesn't preclude that a different method might work too, but I advocate the freedom-on-top-of-a-firm-structure approach because in Beethoven and others I can see that it produces the definition of merit explained above. My argument is NOT the crude 'Lots of people like Beethoven, therefore Beethoven is definitely good' but rather 'Some people like Beethoven, and the fact that he produced something that made them think so is how we define the merit in his work.' I'm not measuring the degree of merit according to this definition, just trying to show that it is present. The reason why I've been banging on about citing academics is that I seriously thought you were disputing the idea that amongst the classical music audience Beethoven was not in fact a popular composer, something I thought would be so empirically self-evident as to not require any proof. Ok, so I was mistaken in this interpretation of your position and probably didn't make this clear; I've been arguing against something I needn't have. Of course I'm not trying to argue that an academic or group of them or popular opinion can dictate personal taste, I never suggested this. I did argue that an academic or a member of the audience would be a reliable judge of how such an audience regards a work. I am using the fact that a significant number of people are receptive to Beethoven's work simply to conclude that his music is succeeding in engaging with an audience. The only value judgement within this would be how one would define 'popular amongst the classical music audience', because this is what I thought you were disputing. That's why I questioned whether you were arguing that Beethoven's works were not of good quality because, as you explain at length, this would be a moot point, it's unprovable.
  12. I asked you this back in post number 38, right at the start, however so far you've been too busy to respond.
  13. This is an interesting game. If I'm being serious I think I'd probably have to be the Mark Bowden Professor Emeritus of Chamber Music. If silly, the 2008 Egri Merlot Professor Emirates Airline of Finishing Pieces the Night Before Deadline Day.
  14. Luderart, seconded. I have long felt that Beethoven is one of the most modern-sounding composers, although this may be because he is still influential today and so does not seem outdated. Actually this brings up a different avenue of enquiry to this subject: should we assume that all contemporary music is actually 'modern'? Aside from composers who intentionally set out to write in a 'historicist' style, such as our own J. Lee Graham, or the school of medieval revivalists, if a work has a surface style that is novel but uses the underlying structure of music from a past era (or vice versa) can we really declare it modern? Or is all music bound to have some past influence and the degree of modernity is determined by other factors such as aesthetics?
  15. You haven't answered my question. I would like to know what evidence I would have to provide to prove that your hypothesis was partially or completely incorrect. Just to be clear, I am only asking you to suggest what evidence would be needed; you don't have to actually provide it or show that it exists. This is how we test the strength of a hypothesis in an academic manner, by playing devil's advocate for a moment and comparing any possible weaknesses with the available evidence. It could turn out that they do not correspond and you find the evidence does, in fact, back up your arguments. In order to prove that my arguments were incorrect, you would need to provide reasonable evidence of a composer who had acquired, purely by intuition, compositional skills that were the equivalent of somebody who it could be proved had studied under others and had taken whatever you define as a 'theoretical approach'. You would need to show that the latter approach hampers the creativity of a student composer. You would need to show that the business of acquiring skill for a practical discipline such as driving uses a different learning processes to composition, and that the entirely 'intuitive approach' is as effective a learning method for any given discipline as any other, for example using theory or structured lessons. Can you do this? You are also very keen to discredit the validity of the idea that we can measure the quality of an artistic work. This is because if you cannot, then my argument about even someone like Beethoven needing to plan and structure to produce his music will hold and thus discredit your advocacy of the 'intuitive approach'. Because terms such as 'merit' and 'skill' are open to interpretation, when faced with an argument along these lines either of us could just claim that we don't accept the individual in question's abilities and therefore the example is void. So that's why we have to look at how the general public and musical academics have received the work/composer, as this is at least a moderately reliable way of assessing this. It seems sensible to conclude that if a work has a long and frequent performance history and the majority of the listening public and suitably qualified academics regard it to have 'merit', then we could place some authority on this position. It's not absolute proof but it would seem an honest and sensible way of backing up an argument regarding value judgements. However, because this contradicts what you say, you try to claim that the opinions of qualified academics and the public reception of a work are of no help in determining its quality or merit. Are you seriously arguing that Beethoven's symphonies, concerti, quartets, trios, sonatas and masses are not in fact of good quality? In order to prove this you would need to provide evidence that thousands of academics and listeners who would have the opinion his works are of good quality are either deluded, or have been duped into regarding the music in a certain way, or else use some objective criteria to determine the quality of a work to prove that the music is not in fact of good quality. Since you offer patronising 'protips', please accept one in return from a professional musician: If we state that somebody in authority takes a certain position on a subject, that alone is not an appeal to authority. When an academic paper is written (including those by students), it is expected and encouraged that the author will include quotes and citations of works by such figures as evidence. It is perfectly sound reasoning to say that 'academic x says this therefore it must be true' (more probably we would say 'is likely to be true' or 'is a reasonable conclusion'), because academic x will have studied the subject, will base their conclusions on verifiable evidence, and so their authority rests on these and not simply their own stature. Academics do not try and parade unprovable opinions as facts because they would be discredited by their peers - the academic environment is pretty cut-throat, let me assure you. A suitably qualified academic who stated in a court of law that Beethoven was generally regarded as a great composer would have this accepted by the court as reliable evidence. Their value judgements can generally be trusted and this is why I am confident in resting a pillar of my argument on this. A true appeal to authority would be trying to cite Barack Obama as a reliable source on whether a music work has merit. He has authority, but it is not an authority that allows him to make a knowledgeable statement on this subject area. I feel you are overlooking the fact I agree with a large part of what you are saying, mostly because you nit-pick peripheral points relating to analogies I use. I certainly am not arguing that intuition is of no use in compositional training or in mature composition, nor that structure and logic-driven planning can solve any problem. I am not suggesting that driving is perfectly analogous to composition, only that the methods by which the skill is learned and honed are similar enough to warrant comparison. I've also been honourable enough not to misquote, swear, taunt and make personal attacks against my opponent, nor relish the chance to 'get to make fun of some stuff that was posted (Yay!)' none of which should be necessary in a serious debate.
  16. Let me ask you a question: what evidence would I have to provide to prove your arguments wrong?
  17. You stated 'driving has nothing to do with creating music'. I've given you an example of how it has. If 'you can MAKE (i.e. argue) anything related to anything else if you want', then you can 'link both things together even conceptually'!. What you are saying here is a false analogy, because in your example 'writing in C major' and 'being shot by you because you had a gun' are not connected; it would be an arbitrary decision of you to shoot for this reason. In the Soviet Union the choice of key was quite literally a matter of life and death, and things such as having to end symphonies in an upbeat major key were part of Soviet cultural policy. Although this policy might have been established arbitrarily, once this had happened it was law, and as such being sent to a labour camp on trumped-up charges for cultural crimes was not something that would be decided just like that (please don't confuse this with the fact that people would be arrested without warning). It really was a crime to write the wrong notes. In any case I did not state this to strengthen my analogy; I made this point to directly refute your assertion that 'In art there are no errors, none of your actions will endanger people's lives or wellbeing'. To quote Sergei Rachmaninov: 'A good conductor ought to be a good chauffeur. The qualities that make the one also make the other. They are concentration, an incessant control of attention, and presence of mind - the conductor has to only add a little sense of music'. I think we agree that this could be said of a good composer too, as they all relate to knowledge of one's discipline and the ability to make intelligent decisions based on it. As I've repeatedly said, they require the same structured learning processes to acquire, as do countless other skills from archery to zoology. Can you understand that it is not the end skill I am implying that is important but the way in which it is learned? This is not an appeal to popularity. Please see this page for a correct definition. The fact that major symphonies in the canon, which I made clear I was discussing, are considered to be of good quality by the vast majority of concert goers, critics and musicologists is beyond reasonable doubt and is not in debate. Can you cite any evidence that they are not popular and widely acclaimed amongst the parties mentioned? I don't quite understand this. I have shown by logic that it is highly unlikely (and I did not use the work impossible, please do not use this kind of leading language, what I actually said was that I would not believe you) that a work of the quality of, say, Beethoven, could be produced by somebody with no experience, when it was still necessary for somebody highly experienced (Ludwig van B) to go through the process of planning and drafting and refining, which I proved he did by citing his sketchbooks and correspondences, all of which can be viewed and verified via facsimiles in public libraries. To assert that I would 'always move the goalpost' is extremely presumptuous and is not an fair debate tactic. In any case, what were you trying to trick me into saying? I would hope that the caveat that any statements we make are opinions would be taken as read. Where I am trying to establish a material fact, I back it up with evidence. I'd just like to state why this is relevant to the thread. It's because a learning composer needs to understand the importance of balancing theory and process with individuality and freedom. I know it's a cliché, but they really need to learn the rules before they break them.
  18. Can I just be clear that your position is that structure or forward planning is not necessary to produce great music, and that it and 'theory' hampers creativity. Is that correct? If so, I am curious as to what, besides not wanting to lose this argument, is your interest in propagating this view. Are you afraid of being thought elitist or a snob for advocating some degree of specialist knowledge as being necessary to classical/'art' music composition? Do you ever plan out compositions, or just write spontaneously and so fear your music will be discredited? a) Driving has nothing to do with creating music, eh? Well I can tell you I wouldn't have written The Sun Rising without having spent hours on the motorway as this was my inspiration. (By the way, the fact that driving poses potential danger does not result in the conclusion that it has nothing to do with music - this is known as a non sequitur argument) Also, I couldn't earn most of my living from writing or playing music without the car. b) There were plenty of 'errors' in composition under the Council of Trent, the Inquisition, Stalin and Chairman Mao that would likely result in your death or that of others. Not quite the same as losing the back end and putting your Astra into a tree, admittedly, but you did say that music never endangered life... c) You've missed the analogy, which is about learning methods. Never mind that I've already explained that the skills sets required for both driving and composition are similar, the point is that one must follow a certain learning structure if the aim is to be successful. Should've used ballet as the example, I suppose - you can't pirouette successfully just by jumping in. The last caveat seems to make this question: 'Would you believe that a great piece could be written spontaneously, not including all the great pieces we know that weren't?'. The 'warhorses', by which I assume you mean the Beethoven/Brahms/Sibelius tradition, were written by the composers thinking about overall structure and fitting their spontaneously created surface ideas around it. We know this because we have their sketchbooks and other writings which show how they thought about putting the piece together and that they made plans. As these works are generally considered by listeners, critics and musicologists alike to be examples of music with merit, we can therefore conclude that merit is more likely to be found in pieces which are built around a structure in this way. So to answer the question; I would not believe you, because if such works could be written spontaneously, why was planning and theory as I have described necessary to produce all the finest extant examples of it? If Beethoven needed to structure and refine his ideas to produce the quality of works that he did, how could somebody with no experience do the same or better? I am also reluctant to believe that somebody with 'no previous experience' would even be able to manage the practicalities of writing such as different clefs and transpositions. I am very familiar with improvisation, as I'm a church organist and accompanist who quite often has to work from lead sheets, chord charts and other 'guideline' scores. And yes, I do change my mind in the process of composing, many times, often with almost the entire piece. Elgar would copy out bits of his pieces, place them around the room and get Billy Reed to play them in different orders to determine how they should make up the piece. But, as you imply, there is still a plan. Even if you end up ditching a plan then we can still say you have a plan of what not to write. Oh, you're quite right about this, but having a decent outline structure is a very good bet on how to overcome this. If you get stuck at one point but you have planned out what will eventually follow it (and importantly, this already-devised passage is one you know will reinforce the effectiveness of the piece by its structural position), you can proceed simply by thinking about how to link the two. So as you can once again see from this example, the successful composition combines a degree of structured planning with a degree of freedom. This reflects my own composition experiences and, I suspect, yours too. EDIT: since writing this several other posts have appeared which make your position clearer. So you can probably ignore the first paragraph.
  19. Intuition is indeed a powerful tool in the creative artist's armoury. As your examples show, it is honed based on prior experience. The reason why we can judge that a groove sounds good or that something is not quite balanced in a composition is precisely because we have a mental 'library' of other examples to compare it too. This is not limited to a particular element or genre, as more general principles such as proportions and coherence come from life experience. I don't agree with what Dominus says about it stifling originality; the opposite approach, consciously trying to be different from anybody else, will produce a very limited range of available ways to proceed at any point in the composition. 'Learning by doing' is different from simply diving into something. The best 'learning by doing' is under the instruction of a good teacher, who will structure the 'doing' so it is of most benefit to your progress. Can you imagine if we took an 'intuitive' approach to learning to drive? - which I know might not seem as 'creative' a field as composition but actually requires a similar skill set; technical ability, judgement based on experience, handling multiple parts of the task simultaneously, memory, etc. The reason why pulling up an orchestral template and trying to write a symphony straight off is the wrong approach is simply that it is inappropriate for a beginner's level of experience and will teach them little other than that this is too ambitious a task for their level. One does not give a beginner piano student a concerto to learn. In both cases it will most likely result in abandoning the project frustrated and demoralised. You can write a shorter piece that 'works' just by going at it, and you can certainly come up with ideas spontaneously, but to write a longer piece which sounds coherent and through it produces a memorable and profound effect on the listener requires at least a rough plan and some experience of handling multiple ideas and longer forms. I suppose in summary I should say that you can sit down and write a symphony with no experience, but history suggests it will not be of much merit to the listener or performer. What the great examples of this form exhibit is that they sound spontaneous and original as well as being dramatic and memorable, because they disguise the carefully-crafted structure underneath so well. You appear to be conflating an over-reliance on theory with a sensible degree of planning. If you asked a skilled performer to improvise a piece, what they came up with might sound really spontaneous and novel but underneath there would be at least some overall plan and definitely a solid grasp of technique on their instrument. The old adage of 'fail to plan, plan to fail' is a pertinent one. What is important to avoid is planning too much and so hampering flexibility in the process of composing a work.
  20. Ignoring the generalisation about contemporary music, I would answer by saying: exactly the same things that have made all music original yet intellectually coherent and great. Chiefly originality must not be the sole motive of the work - and I believe this would be futile as it would be nearly impossible to fulfil anyway. On the other hand it should not be ignored as a subsidiary motive in the process of writing. What great music consists of is presenting something that is fundamentally familiar in a new way, to create something that allows the observer to approach a previously unseen part of the idea. Personally I feel that what makes an artwork great is to have some small element that is unexpected or apparently illogical i.e. it would not exist if the composition were created strictly adhering to its material. An example I can think of is the first movement of Beethoven's Eroica where, after the development, he inserts a melody in the oboe that has not been heard in the exposition nor used in the development. 'Logically' it should not exist, yet it does and this is what I feel constitutes true originality, notwithstanding the work's generally innovative nature (although we can appreciate that in fact it derives clearly within the Haydn/Mozart tradition it now is considered to be part of) What is perceived to be extreme originality can be successful as long as it is done with integrity and if it contributes towards the purpose of the work. I say perceived, because what at first appears to be strikingly different is often a carefully handled development of an existing model. An obvious example would be Stravinsky's Rite. On a first hearing, it may seem like a disordered cacophony which bears no resemblance to music preceding it. Later, the listener may appreciate that all the elements in the composition are in fact tightly under control, exist within the piece for a good reason, and draws many of its ideas from the Russian symphonic tradition and folk music.
  21. I think this would benefit from increased activity in the instruments that are accompanying. The first violin carries the melody a lot in classical-period quartets but the typical repeated quavers are a bit overused here. Have a look at Haydn Op.33 and Beethoven Op.18 for some alternative ideas. Often even when playing quavers the other instruments 'jump out' at cadential points, the cello will often have an arpeggio which creates a little bit of movement. But in general you have very little that carries across the beat, and you could incorporate suspensions and other devices which would provide more independence of parts. As it stands I can hear too much of the chords changing bar-by bar, particularly in the exposition.
  22. I think it could probably be said that we are living, if not in a golden age of composition, then certainly a very good one. For a start, there seems to be a wider range of concert music being written and performed than at any other time. Obviously we have all the great works of the past, and many unknown ones which are being re-discovered, but also in the sphere of contemporary music there is a massively diverse variety of works being written. These range from the neo-Romantic, to minimalism, to music influenced by jazz and popular styles, electronic compositions, sound installations - many, many different kinds. The listener is literally spoilt for choice. Secondly, there has never been a time when dissemination of new music has been easier, partly thanks to the internet itself but also thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of composers and other individuals. A few notable examples would be record labels run by orchestras (LSO Live) which cut costs and can 'sell' lesser-known works; digital streaming services (Spotify, Naxos Music Library, Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall, YouTube) which give greater access to new works that might not be distributed via traditional media; the fact that major orchestras and halls are no longer embarrassed by contemporary music and can promote it on the same level as their more traditional repertoire, and the fact that emerging composers can network and promote their music themselves, as we are doing here. So really, the access to new music is greater than ever and thus the listener has a very good chance of finding work that they like and are influenced by. With regard to 'popular music'; well, it's true that most of it is derivative and formulaic and lacks conviction because it is just a mass-produced disposable commercial product. But I think its core elements could be elevated to the level of art. There are pop composers out there who experiment with using techniques which are beyond the usual reach of commercial music, and who take an artistic approach towards composing. Similarly, there are classical composers who write using the surface style of pop and jazz, but with a skilful use of classical technique. Copyright and the way it is used by greedy publishing/hiring companies are a serious problem and contribute greatly towards stifling the performance of new music (or even music that is 100 years old). My orchestra are performing Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony at the moment and have been lucky enough to hire a set of parts which actually date from the first publication of the work - they're not in bad condition considering they are 101 years old. Although they are legal to hire from the owner for a reasonable rate (because they bought them when the work was on public sale), the publishing house who currently hold the British copyright on this work are furious this is happening and they can't do anything about it, because they have enjoyed being able to charge massive fees for their hire copies (which are no longer on sale since they realised they could do this). Also it would be illegal for us to perform off parts bought in the US or Canada (where it it out of copyright) for the same reason, So you can appreciate that there must be many performances of this fine work which do not happen because of exorbitant hire costs. Now imagine having to put together a programme of contemporary music, all of which is not for public sale but owned by the publishing company for hire. An orchestra would have no moral problem with paying royalties to the composer who has put effort into writing something, but what the publishing houses are doing is putting their music out of reach of wider dissemination by hoarding it. There are going to be some annoyed people when Rachmaninov and Richard Strauss come out of copyright in the EU in a few years' time, but it will hopefully allow these composers' lesser-known works more performances.
  23. Well, if you've got the bandwidth to load some acid-trip Gothic Secessionist eye-roaster of a page every time you navigate somewhere, be my guest. I personally would prefer not to be assaulted by something that looks like it was designed by the absinthe fairy trying to combine the influences of Klimt, Dali, Picasso and Canterbury Cathedral in pixel format. Joking aside, there are some very good reasons why YC has a simple and un-fantastic design. It follows the rules of good design and layout with uniform colours and clear fonts. Why do think maps aren't printed on paper that changes colour with invisible pink Gothic fonts? It's because they need to be easy to read at a glance and provide information clearly.
  24. Excellent. Just time to go round and post suspiciously favourable reviews of all the judges' music...
  25. 5th grade is about age 10-11, yes? (I'm British). I can't really answer that directly, because we didn't have any 'band class' involving instrumental tuition; everyone took lessons individually. But the reason would be simple: if anyone was better it was because they practised more effectively, had a better teacher, or simply cared about doing the thing well (most people had dropped out by the time they reached secondary school). What I want to dispel is the idea that 'talent' is something a chosen few are born with and the rest aren't, and this magical superpower means that taking lessons is a mere formality to get them started on instrument/singing/taekwondo etc, after which even the most formidable feats are just jumping through hoops at which the rest of the world can only gaze in awe (and hopefully buy their records). In other words, anyone can master a skill simply with the correct instruction and sufficient determination to do so. 'Talent' is an unhelpful and highly inaccurate concept, akin to belief that any sufficiently advanced technology must be magic.
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