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As A Composer, What Metaphors For Composition Occur To You?


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Here's the Wikipedia's useful definition of metaphor:

 

"A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes a subject by asserting that it is, on some point of comparison, the same as another otherwise unrelated object. Metaphor is a type of analogy and is closely related to other rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via association, comparison or resemblance including allegory, hyperbole, and simile."

 

I think all of us composers, from our experience of composing, can liken the activity of composing to other activities in our experience. Hence metaphors of composition might serve to cast some light on the otherwise objectively mysterious-seeming activity of composition.

 

I already shared my metaphor of composition as a status (http://www.youngcomposers.com/statuses/user/1163-luderart/?status_id=3630). But to provide an example, I will paste it here:

 

"In composition, each degree of the scale is like a number and the composition as a whole like an equation or a mathematical proof set out by the composer. If the equation/proof does not succeed to the satisfaction of the composer (and to some extent the audience too), then, somewhere, a "number" or a combination of numbers (= note, chord, or sequence of notes) must be changed so that the "formula"/"equation" turns out "correct"."

 

 

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I view the process of creating a work as being akin to rearing a difficult child. You use all of your spirit to try to mold him into something sensible, pleasant, intelligent, and handsome, but he thwarts you at every turn, and in the back of your mind you know you will eventually fail. Nonetheless, you endure his trials as much as you are able. Once you are absolutely exhausted and emotionally depleted, even though he is not perfect, you abandon him to the world and hope for the best.

 

 

That's a simile.

contrary to what we all learned in grade school, there is not an absolute dichotomy between simile and metaphor. A simile is merely a figure of speech, while a metaphor is more of a conceptual thingy.

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I like to think of it as architechture. Foundation must be solid, form must obey surroundings, each element must have its function and color to match.

Since I'm also doing film this analogy helps me when doing corrections or rewrites. Telling your client that he doesn't need three bedrooms and that he'll be happier with a closet full of kitchen sinks.

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I see composing as starting from a particular point and then branching out in any chosen direction. You then take leaps from interconnected branches and leap between those that are spaced apart, but you ultimately return to the start point. A piece is good and "memorable" if it takes you in surprising directions but still knows how to return to the start. 

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Composition is like painting. Every note or chord is like a brushstroke. And once the painting dries, every note has found its place and the piece is finished (so that you may no longer make any changes). For better or worse, the finished piece (painting) is a reflection of, or testament to, the artistic message of its author at the point in time in which it was created, to the experiences they were living and to the existential problems that confronted them at the time and the ways in which they sought to make sense of them and to "solve" them. From this perspective, it is as senseless to revisit a finished piece as it is to tamper with the grave of Michelangelo or Beethoven.

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