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Is Formal Training In Composition Necessary ?

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I would do but nobody is currently writing in the style of Jane Austen, probably because it would be irrelevant!

:facepalm:

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Yeah. We had a Shakespeare too, he was fantastic as wel! Why would we need somebody else to write plays in English? Surely nobody could write plays in English better than Shakespeare, so why bother?

Because there's always something else to say with these same words and this same language.

Yes of course, I must have forgotten about the mass of new plays that use thee, thou etc....

Let's make a thread on the numerous re-tellings of Pride and Prejudice or Emma :cool:...

Reuse of story, characters, settings etc, not a blatant rip off of Jane Austen's style of writing

Boulez though he had the authority to say who and what was relevant in composition. I'm just asking for the fourth time who and how can anyone possibly decide that.

Someone who has studied composition under Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire, won the Grawemeyer award, had his works premiered by some of the greatest virtuosos of the 20th century, conducted several of the world's most reputable orchestras and published a collection of writings on musical aesthetics. I think the opinion of such a person would probably carry some weight, don't you agree? I think you should actually read his writings; I think you will be surprised to learn what he actually thinks.

... as continuously shown by their penchant for deeming past and current competing styles outdated, overdone or irrelevant :P .

So are you seriously trying to argue that conservatism is open minded as opposed to exploring new styles?

... as long as their beloved styles don't ever dare to stage a comeback :horrified: ...

Why would it need to? All the great Romantic music is still with us, it hasn't gone anywhere. We certainly don't need any second rate copies of it.

... as represented by freethinking composers, performers and audiences not following their path or bounded by what they deem fashionable or relevant :P .

Freethinking in what way exactly? By dismissing music without first attempting to understand it? That sounds rather ignorant and closed-minded to me.

Still waiting for someone to explain what is relevant now. And for how long.

I would personally say that something is relevant when it is correctly placed within its social, cultural and historical context.

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Yes of course, I must have forgotten about the mass of new plays that use thee, thou etc....

Reuse of story, characters, settings etc, not a blatant rip off of Jane Austen's style of writing.

So it's not the memorable characters, nor the compelling stories, nor the precise settings, the defining traits of Austen's or Shakespeare's style, but rather the usage of archaic pronouns. If you ever use pronouns, you'll be producing a second-rate copy of Austen.

Guess the same should go for music...

Someone who has studied composition under Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire, won the Grawemeyer award, had his works premiered by some of the greatest virtuosos of the 20th century, conducted several of the world's most reputable orchestras and published a collection of writings on musical aesthetics. I think the opinion of such a person would probably carry some weight, don't you agree?

Perhaps that's what formal training is most useful for: giving someone the formal means to get himself into a position where he feels entitled to impose his opinions on others. As much as I respect his achievements as a conductor, his (admitted) bullying doesn't quite fit the bill of open-mindedness. Authority fallacy?

So are you seriously trying to argue that conservatism is open minded as opposed to exploring new styles?

No. There are narrow-minded jerks on both sides.

By dismissing music without first attempting to understand it? That sounds rather ignorant and closed-minded to me.

Romantic music (...) We certainly don't need any second rate copies of it.

Sounds like a blatant self-contradiction. Dismissing any new music that draws from Romanticism as "second rate copies" sounds as ignorant and closed-minded, esp. when not bothering to understand it first (or because it's easily understood :thumbsup: )

BTW, you're again attacking the wrong guy. Are you seriously trying to argue that it is not possible to dislike or reject "new" music after attempting to understand it - or that any opposition is just a side-effect of ignorance?

I would personally say that something is relevant when it is correctly placed within its social, cultural and historical context.

Which leads me to assume that the expression of human thoughts and feelings in a compelling way, and the never-ending struggle towards an ideal were only within context between 1825 and 1910.

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Those aren't romantic composers?

Yes thank you, I'm familiar with them. I was thinking about the previous sentence, which I assumed would be obvious.

Funny how almost all the top achievers (whatever the hell that means) in music apparently are romantic composers.

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Hmm....According to Nancy Bricard in her editions of Ravel's piano music, Ravel said that "If, when copying others, you remain yourself, it's only because you have something to say".

Ultimately, someone with a truly creative impulse can only create what is within them to create, if that happens to be in a Beethovinian style, then that's just how it is. If you think that's not creative because of some intellectual ideology of how people should compose, I doubt anyone whose primary concern is their own imagination would care - someone who has inspiration knows they have it and can feel it in their heart and soul - it is not measurable or capable of being intellectualized.

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So it's not the memorable characters, nor the compelling stories, nor the precise settings, the defining traits of Austen's or Shakespeare's style, but rather the usage of archaic pronouns. If you ever use pronouns, you'll be producing a second-rate copy of Austen.

Guess the same should go for music...

As I have said before, there are elements in any art form that transcend era. In the case of literature; characters, stories and settings are examples of these transcendent elements and, rightfully so, current authors are influenced by these elements and look to emulate them, but they do so using contemporary language, not early modern English like Shakespeare. The difference is a lot more than just a few pronouns. I simply offered pronouns as examples, if I would've known I might have thrown a verb or an adjective in there for you.

Style does not transcend era. Any attempt to emulate past styles descends into pastiche or parody.

Perhaps that's what formal training is most useful for: giving someone the formal means to get himself into a position where he feels entitled to impose his opinions on others. As much as I respect his achievements as a conductor, his (admitted) bullying doesn't quite fit the bill of open-mindedness. Authority fallacy?

So gaining expert knowledge in your area equates to an authority fallacy? And here was me thinking maybe we should listen to the people who know what they're talking about. How stupid of me!

No. There are narrow-minded jerks on both sides.

Agreed!

Sounds like a blatant self-contradiction. Dismissing any new music that draws from Romanticism as "second rate copies" sounds as ignorant and closed-minded, esp. when not bothering to understand it first (or because it's easily understood :thumbsup: )

BTW, you're again attacking the wrong guy. Are you seriously trying to argue that it is not possible to dislike or reject "new" music after attempting to understand it - or that any opposition is just a side-effect of ignorance?

That's the point! I understand the workings of Romantic music because I invested a great deal of my time in doing so. Therefore I have earned my right to dislike it.

I did not say that it wasn't possible to dislike or reject new music after attempting to understand it. I just think that you need to earn your right to have an opinion about ANYTHING by first learning to understand it. (not just attempting to understand. Doing that and then stopping because you don't think you can understand is perhaps even more ignorant than not trying to understand in the first place)

Once you do understand something, you are free to like or dislike it as you please in my opinion.

Which leads me to assume that the expression of human thoughts and feelings in a compelling way, and the never-ending struggle towards an ideal were only within context between 1825 and 1910.

I didn't realise that romantic music had a monopoly on human thoughts and feelings! The never-ending struggle carried on resulting in contemporary music and continues on. Some people got too caught up in some of the pretty pictures along the way and decided it wasn't worth the effort anymore though. The rest strove to create something that wasn't any better or worse than what had gone before but wasn't emulating the past either, and in doing so remained true to themselves as artists.

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:facepalm:

If you actually had a point to make, you probably would've wrote it here instead of this.

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Hmm....According to Nancy Bricard in her editions of Ravel's piano music, Ravel said that "If, when copying others, you remain yourself, it's only because you have something to say".

Ultimately, someone with a truly creative impulse can only create what is within them to create, if that happens to be in a Beethovinian style, then that's just how it is. If you think that's not creative because of some intellectual ideology of how people should compose, I doubt anyone whose primary concern is their own imagination would care - someone who has inspiration knows they have it and can feel it in their heart and soul - it is not measurable or capable of being intellectualized.

Name one established composer today who is composing in a Beethovinian style.

It is good that your imagination is your primary concern because that is where your music will remain if it is written in the style of Beethoven.

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It is good that your imagination is your primary concern because that is where your music will remain if it is written in the style of Beethoven.

Still waiting for someone to tell me what is exactly the style we're supposed to be writing in to be "relevant".

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Still waiting for someone to tell me what is exactly the style we're supposed to be writing in to be "relevant".

How about something that depicts a "never-ending struggle towards an ideal" whatever the hell that is supposed to be?

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Would be deemed as too "Romantic" :P . Or find another way to question its relevance, since someone seems to believe the "contemporary" crowd has the monopoly of authenticity :thumbsup: ...

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Would be deemed as too "Romantic" :P . Or find another way to question its relevance, since someone seems to believe the "contemporary" crowd has the monopoly of authenticity :thumbsup: ...

Erm yes, actually the contemporary crowd does have the monopoly on authenticity since you can't possibly be authentic to your time if you are composing music that was contemporary 150 years ago. That is unless you are a 19th century European, in which case go ahead by all means!

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actually the contemporary crowd does have the monopoly on authenticity...

:facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm:

A legitimate claim to tell me who am I and how am I supposed to express myself. So much for open-mindedness.

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:facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm:

A legitimate claim to tell me who am I and how am I supposed to express myself. So much for open-mindedness.

I'm not telling you who you are and how to express yourself, I'm telling you to be yourself and to stop expressing yourself like someone else!!

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There's so much I want to respond to on this thread, but I think I'm going to have to come back to it at some point.

Formal training IS necessary in the composition of art music. Not my opinion, it is a fact. All of you who are saying that Holst and Martinu and them all learned without formal training are wrong. Most of those composers that TJS listed indeed learnt composition formally, perhaps not when they were 6, but before they wrote any of their "mature" works. Now you are asking... "Why is it a fact?". Simple - By reading books you will learn all the individual components that make up a piece of music. By listening to music, you will have some idea of the conventional arrangement of these components. However, this approach is inherently flawed because you aren't writing ANY original work at this point - you're just copying what you have heard. With formal lessons, however, you will learn exactly how to arrange these characteristics into a work of art with a certain convention, and you will also learn how to arrange them in your OWN meaningful way. Thus, becoming a composer of original work.

I did say "largely self-taught." In any case, some of them did have very little formal training because some people are just better able to teach themselves. Such people are perhaps few and far between, but they exist.

I don't agree that there has to be some correlation between taking lessons and being original. The opposite result is going to be just as likely, and perhaps more likely if you have an overbearing teacher. In my experience, most people tend to be overbearing and authoritarian (in all walks of life, I mean), even if it's not immediately apparent.

Name one established composer today who is composing in a Beethovinian style.

It is good that your imagination is your primary concern because that is where your music will remain if it is written in the style of Beethoven.

Do you consider Michelangelo to be an irrelevant sculpturist because he essentially copied Hellenic and Hellenistic techniques and style? How about so much of the rest of the Renaissance movement, which looked backward in an attempt to re-create much of a past civilization? What about the Enlightenment which also did much the same thing? Was Brahms relevant? (Lots of people at the time thought he wasn't.) Shostakovich? Rachmaninoff? Is my English irrelevant because I'm following general spelling and grammar and coming up with "miself 2 xprs phunky nu wayz?" Note, however, that in all those cases, it could never be an exact copy of what had preceded, and I submit that even if there were a composer today attempting to write in a Beethovenian or Mozartean style (I mean an actual good composer, not someone who is doing some superficial copy of their music), it wouldn't be the same and they would eventually develop in another direction. The evidence is in how many other composers started off sounding like someone else (though even there you often sensed their individuality) and developing on their own path.

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The evidence is in how many other composers started off sounding like someone else (though even there you often sensed their individuality) and developing on their own path.

Yes, well that is the difference between being influenced by something and copying something. Too many people don't put in the effort when it comes to the "developing on their own path" part and stay with the romantic aesthetic rather than taking elements of romanticism and applying them to their own individual aesthetic. To go back to the original point of the thread, I believe that formal education is useful for this because it forces people out of their musical comfort zone. Whether it is entirely necessary is a different matter I suppose but I'm struggling to think of composers in the past 100 years or so who haven't got some form of music degree or had formal composition lessons. Any who haven't had either would be the exception rather than the rule.

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I'm telling you to be yourself and to stop expressing yourself like someone else!!

... while vaguely setting a standard on what can be deemed as "being myself" :nod: .

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... while vaguely setting a standard on what can be deemed as "being myself" :nod: .

Being yourself: Not being like someone else

How elitist of me......

By the way, I'm not saying there is a "correct" style to write in today. What I'm saying is that writing in the styles of the past isn't acceptable. That includes the distant and incredibly recent past. Serialism is obsolete, as are total indeterminacy, texturalism and all of the 60s/70s avant garde/high modernist aesthetics. Likewise with Romanticism, I just tend to use that as the example because that is the most popular of the obsolete styles, not because of some hatred of the music. We should take what we can learn from these styles and try to integrate them into something new.

For what it's worth, I haven't achieved this yet. I'm getting closer but I'm still hovering somewhere between Bartok and later 20th century modernism. I'm currently trying to integrate some of the harmonic and melodic arrangement ideas of Lutoslawski and Carter along with the extended tonality of Bartok to create something that is unique and resonates with me. I'm not there yet but this way definitely feels more valid than the neoclassical style I was writing in about a year and a half ago.

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Name one established composer today who is composing in a Beethovinian style.

It is good that your imagination is your primary concern because that is where your music will remain if it is written in the style of Beethoven.

Well, I didn't say I was writing like Beethoven - I personally have much greater interests than Beethoven's music.

But I guess the difference is between those of us who want societal recognition (or recognition by a portion of society) and those of us who are content not to play that game.

Also, I think that writing in or copying the styles of the past, to the best that you can replicate them, is the best way to develop skill, and is also an indicator of skill. It might be unfulfilling for listeners who want to hear something completely original, but it could also be of value to some who only wish ______ had written more, or are looking for the music to have certain qualities that they like, regardless of who it was and when it was written. IMO there's an infinite amount to be said in each style.

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But I guess the difference is between those of us who want societal recognition (or recognition by a portion of society) and those of us who are content not to play that game.

Yes, it's people like me who are pandering to society, not people like Phillip Glass who writes classical pastiche and misguidedly tries to call it minimalism yet also happens to be the greatest selling living composer. He's not playing a game at all is he? He just happens to appeal to the lowest common denominator?

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New motto: "Be yourself - do it my way".

I love the way you continue to put words into my mouth. I feel like I'm arguing with a child.

Also, I think that writing in or copying the styles of the past, to the best that you can replicate them, is the best way to develop skill, and is also an indicator of skill. It might be unfulfilling for listeners who want to hear something completely original, but it could also be of value to some who only wish ______ had written more, or are looking for the music to have certain qualities that they like, regardless of who it was and when it was written. IMO there's an infinite amount to be said in each style.

Yes it is a way to develop skill and an indicator of skill. I spent two years of college plus the first year of my degree writing in various styles before trying to develop my own and it greatly improved my knowledge and technique. Many painters paint in the style of famous painters of the past as technical practice, they probably wouldn't be as naive to consider their copies as art though.

There isn't an infinite amount to be said in each style, hence why styles have changed over time rather than staying still. Innovation happens out of necessity.

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... the contemporary crowd does have the monopoly on authenticity since you can't possibly be authentic to your time if you are composing music that was contemporary 150 years ago...

I love the way you continue to put words into my mouth.

If I was putting anything in your mouth that you didn't say, I wouldn't bother to quote.

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If I was putting anything in your mouth that you didn't say, I wouldn't bother to quote.

Oh right, I don't recall saying or even implying, "Be yourself - do it my way"

If anything the motto would be "Be yourself- Stop copying the past"

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I'd rather say: "Be yourself - say what you really and wholeheartedly want instead of what others expect you to say".

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