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Either You Have The Gift Of Composition Or You Don't?

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Do you agree or disagree with the above statement?

To agree would mean that no matter how much a person lacking the gift of composition studied, they would never get good at composition just because they lack the gift; and that a person who possesses the gift of composition would display that gift no matter the amount of instruction or study he/she has had in composition.

To disagree, on the other hand would mean that a mediocre talent or even one who patently lacks the gift of composition could get good at it thanks to instruction and study; and that a great talent might be totally wasted because of a lack of the proper instruction and study.

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I don't neccesarily think it involves "gifts" more so the willingness to learn and work hard to improve. Talent can be easily wasted if you don't have the dedication and will be ultimately surpassed by those who do. But I think an important trait is to be open minded in music. Perhaps there is some scientific evidence of genetics involved, that allows for people to be more creative/musical or something, but I don't understand such things so who knows.

Edit: Further, I also ask for clarification for what you mean by "gift" of composition? I assume that it means that you find composing music is less difficult and strenuous. Or perhaps you are implying you are successful? You say "get good at composition" but what does that entail?

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Edit: Further, I also ask for clarification for what you mean by "gift" of composition? I assume that it means that you find composing music is less difficult and strenuous. Or perhaps you are implying you are successful? You say "get good at composition" but what does that entail?

By "gift of composition" I mean like someone having a great voice which is considered a gift from God (i.e. Pavarotti). So if composition is a gift like that, then one either has it or doesn't. Such a gift can be discerned possibly as an inherent musicality in a composition as opposed to a composition that doesn't display such an inherent musicality. By "get good at composition" I mean write successful pieces that are judged good by independent observers or judges, or display technical knowledge of composition (despite the lack of the gift, the inherent musicality).

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One can study real hard and write pretty good music without being gifted. One can also be gifted and write very good music without study. But one who is gifted and studies hard will write excellent music. It is not mutually exclusive, but I believe those that are not gifted won't get any further than one step above mediocre.

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I'm inclined to agree with Tokke. Regarding Phil's statement: I think taste can be 'learned' in the sense that, one must learn to listen to themselves. This involves conscious awareness, I believe. To develop that skill, though, one might argue that alone is difficult. Once you've done so, you are more in tune with yourself, thus more mature in your decision making, and knowing what you want. More mature decision making leads to more tasteful decisions, as well as the ability for your ideas to resonate within others.

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I didn't say they learned from listening to their compositions. I was saying that they must listen to their hearts, and be in tune with themselves.

Although, with the example you gave, I could say you could still learn from studying the bad. It teaches you what not to do, even without good art to compare it with. Your tastes will guide you, in what you think is favorable. And you will strive not to do it. Or you could exaggerate the bad techniques, in a sort of hyperbolic art :P

I see your point, however... I think everyone has 'taste' that can be developed. Though, I think there are far too many variables in this issue to say, as you mature as a composer, either your taste stays the same, or it grows. I think you must mature as a person, and this is not exactly easy to define, since we are all 'unique' individuals, who grow, or relapse at different rates, throughout our unique experiences.

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Um, obviously that was not what I said. But, since you bring it up. The supposed answer is 528hz. Human resonance. This tuning can supposedly repair your DNA...among other things.

As well all know aesthetics are subjective. Therefore, so is taste, and quality. And you say you understand the concept of simple, or intelligent taste. What about complex simplicity, and simple complexity? These refer to quality, and a persons specific way of handling the tools of the trade. Some people do have an aesthetic sense, without knowledge (almost like knowing the answer to something in your gut, but being unable to explain why -this happens to almost everyone with varying subject matter). The passion, and determination only refines it. That is not to say that those without the innate sense cannot use their passion, and determination to surpass those with the innate sense.

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There's no such thing as talent, but there is such a thing as passion and determination.

Tell yourself if that makes you feel better, but tallent does exist. People who are tallented are far more adept at performing and creating music with the same amount of study. For example, there's this guy in my department who doesn't have much tallent. He works WAY harder than anyone else in terms of studying, practicing, etc. but his musical output is no where near where it should be. How do you account for that?

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Mistaking quantity for quality. I mean his musical output is not as good as would be expected. And no, he's not doing it wrong.

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There's no such thing as talent, but there is such a thing as passion and determination.

That's not true at all. When I was younger (a kid) I thought talent was the main reason for the best composers being the best, etc. Then I realized that the majority of people's success is through plain hard work. However, talent obviously exist. By talent I mean the natural genetic inclination toward a specific thing. Some people are born with a genetic predisposition toward math or the visual arts or music.

It's not a black or white thing. Talent isn't the only factor, and neither is hard work. The best composers are a marriage of both. If you meant by this statement that "passion and determination" are a result of a genetic predisposition toward music then I suppose your argument is much more sound as people naturally choose to do what they are talented at, not only because it is more gratifying for them but because they get an ego boost from those around them.

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I will argue the example you gave, Phil. Aesthetics do appeal to people without knowledge of music, and even those with a little knowledge. Folk music, and minimalistic music can easily repeat simple ideas, and structures. Repeating chords are appealing to many people- it is something they can latch on to, and even send chills down their spine. Intellectualizing these aesthetics is pointless, because that's all they are.

A composer can write both ways..."complex" polytonality, or repetitive stagnant chords, he is not neccesserily dumb, for either. Repetitive things, done with interesting sound (electronic / acoustic) can still be very satisfying, due to coloring, alone. this is tasteful, and aesthetic. nothing more.

I dont want to resurrect the thread discussing that popular music isn't neccesarily good music- ala Bieber. I'm not saying that just because simple music is widely popular, that it must be tasteful..

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I didn't say anyone was saying anything to contrary. It was simply a preface to what was to come...

Arpeggiated chords do lend themselves to the motion, and color of the music. This lends to the satisfaction/dissatisfaction of the listener, depending on the tastefulness. Intellectualizing these chords, and saying they are dumb, is your opinion of the aesthetic it provides. False? That is your opinion, not a fact. Good for you, or not good for you, whatever. It's still your opinion of the overall sound, and whether or not you appreciate it. Many people are satisfied by it regardless. Many people are satisfied by many things, that their sensory perception takes in...Other people aren't satisfied by the same things. Overall sound is aesthetic - and what contributes to the overall sound? Anything... I bring the point of simple, vs complex because you seem to think simple is unimaginative. It depends on it's context, for one. These things can still be done well, or poorly. It's still subjective.

Many artists have 'simply' generated so-called masterpieces through trance. These same people are much more spiritual in nature, and don't claim for them to be their 'ideas' at all. This is what I mean by 'tuning-in' to yourself. You are actually tuning in the creative stream. A person can develop themselves, in this way. Therefore gaining 'talent' that wasn't theirs to begin with. So, not everyone is born this way, in the same way nobody is 'born a buddha, or guru', or master of a craft. Their talent, or predisposition may set them on their path to greatness earlier than others, however. It's a combination of this, and your dedication, and passion. It doesn't mean that not everyone can achieve such. Though, this is only true, if each individual is disciplined. Not just in their craft, but in all areas of life. The undisciplined fail at their dreams, because of whatever they allow to distract them. Distractions arise in many different ways, and keep the person from seeing what they need to be doing, and what is best for them in that time in their lives... ... ... Just saying...this is relevant.

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Whatever.

I think that musical development in what sounds 'good' or 'bad' is based on the music that you are surrounded with as a child and the reactions of loved ones to it e.g. you listened to a lot of heavy metal, your parents liked it so you are inclined to like and produce music that is similar. That's my theory, and it's not particulary innovative or even relevent.

As for the original question, I'm slightly offended when people try to claim that I am gifted because it implies that I didn't work very hard to get where I am because I never had to. I have worked a lot to get myself this far, and it isn't very far at all. Saying I'm 'gifted' depreciates my effort.

I think that you can be a great composer whether you were born with it or not, it just depends upon whether you want to be a composer. Anyone can do it if they work hard on it and really try (how cheesy is that?).

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Maybe one should ask oneself how your view of talent affects yourself? How will your view benefit yourself?

If you decide that (this somewhat diffuse concept of) talent exists and is a factor you better decide that you are madly talented, gods gift to whatever you do. No need to check with reality.

If you think you lack in talent still you will probably continue doing what you like to do, as in this case write music. But that attitude might eventually make you perform worse and worse, or at least make things go slow, and thus prove to yourself that you lack talent.

Of course there are differences in how easily we grasp things, but my opinion is that very many can become great at what they decide to do, and for a few it will be difficult. By great I mean create great things, not become an icon remembered for hundreds of years. Once a field is chosen time is important. If you start at the age of three you will have a lot of experience when it is time to become professional. Then you need to surround yourself with the right environment so you get inspired and so you eventually give chance a possibility to make you very successful.

Since the phenomena music a cultural product and not something genetical, all science proves that, there can not be something as "genetic talent tagged for music". If I would give "talent that matters" a definition it would be ability to relax and believe in yourself and the ability to dedicate yourself to a task. If you can do this, you can perform great in your chosen area, save if you happen to have real difficulties for this area.

:)

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Guest Ryan K

Are you sure? I'm almost positive people are born great composers or they're not: no exceptions.

The idea of "hard work" is crafted by the unfortunate, the untalented: to generate hope that they can one day be good if they work at it. Poor souls.

There are plenty of people who are considered to have low musical expectations, by ie. people of this forum. So they might consider 'becoming a great composer' is becoming, in a way, like their peers, and all they have to do is follow their type of schedule, like the pop industry.

Then of course I agree that all music worth is subjective to each individual, especially in an objectivist light, but I think there is a lot of actual objectivity, or agreement, in it too--probably based on what jsands said. It's a tricky thing to discuss; people should just do what they want to do and be good in their own eyes. I notice that however much others and myself like my own music, there always seems to be other music I personally like more and I can't quite grasp that composer's essence (maybe because in my youth I haven't put much out there yet, but it's an ongoing reality.)

Whatever.

I think that musical development in what sounds 'good' or 'bad' is based on the music that you are surrounded with as a child and the reactions of loved ones to it e.g. you listened to a lot of heavy metal, your parents liked it so you are inclined to like and produce music that is similar. That's my theory, and it's not particulary innovative or even relevent.

Do you think this can be changed a healthy degree? because a lot of what one doesn't like but tries to understand and warm into may often feel like a waste of time on something unworthy or not objectively good, even when it's not... and is there a way to know, or is it all really subjective?

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Guest Ryan K

I got that, though the nature of musical discussion being so subjective I had to put my thought on it nonetheless :toothygrin:. Ignore my off-topic posts.

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There are multiple problems with expecting an answer to a question posed like this. The first being what defines "being a gifted composer". Is it wide acclaim? From memory J.S. Bach was essentially footnoted (for like 100 years or something) compared to say, Handel, in terms of popularity. This wide acclaim so long after his death would probably not have acted as validation for his efforts...

I think it's pretty obvious that this particular definition is flawed if you use it to guide you, and by similar reasoning, most other mildly objective standards (# of grammys..., etc) are similarly flawed.

So maybe your definition is "for your work to be appreciated by yourself and your friends". In this case, then there's nothing that requires being born with Xmen powers. Where I think you would be screwed, is if you were born with amusia. Then maybe you should just do painting.

Edit: Studies have shown that congenital amusia is a deficit in fine-grained pitch discrimination and that 4% of the population suffers from this disorder. -Wikipedia quote. From memory that just happens to be the same percentage of people who are Cage fans! it all makes sense. :)

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I find it impossible to answer this question without my brain just shutting down and opening with a fresh contradiction. What is gift? People brand others as gifted; whilst others might disagree. Gift exists; Gift is non-existent. AHHHHHH! AHHHH! AHHHH!

This question brings me much pain. Thank you.

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