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Ken320

Do You Have A Style As A Composer?

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Or do you feel that others feel that you have a style when you do not feel the same way? Is style just a necessary artifact of commercialism? And if so, does it enhance a composer's standing, or diminish it?

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14 hours ago, Ken320 said:

Or do you feel that others feel that you have a style when you do not feel the same way? Is style just a necessary artifact of commercialism? And if so, does it enhance a composer's standing, or diminish it?

 

Could you elaborate on the "necessary artifact of commercialism" bit, Ken.  I'm not quite sure what you mean, but it sounds interesting.

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Sure. I should have given the question a little more thought. But I'm not sure there is a way to ask it without sounding vague or naive. I wanted to know if you think you have a style that is particularly unique within your genre. Such that when people hear it they know it's yours. Or if not, is it a goal worth working towards - if that is even possible. Composers with very circumscribed styles can be very successful, if only because they are recognizable. Minimalism comes to mind. Having a schtick helps in the commercial sense because your product is dependable and proven, like anything else for sale. Make sense?

Now I was thinking about Hans Zimmer, who people have commented on right here. People seem to think that he has a style, a 'sound'. The Hans Zimmer sound. When film composers get hired the director might say, "I'd like to get that Hans Zimmer sound." But does he really have a sound? He did a couple of films like Inception and Batman and suddenly he's got a sound? But if you heard his score for "A League of Their Own" You'd say, that doesn't sound like Hans Zimmer at all. Now, when Hans himself gets hired for a film and plays his cues for the director, he might look disappointed and say, tactfully,  "This is quite good Hans ... but what I'd really like to get from you is that Hans Zimmer sound." Now he must parody himself! (We should be so lucky to have his problems, right?)

I am just wondering if people find the idea of being a totally original composer all important. Thoughts?

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Interesting...  It definitely does make sense to have a "sound."  No sense attracting someone to follow your work with one piece, and sending them packing again with the next one.  But it's possible to achieve the same commercial goal by specializing in music for a certain type of musical group, and still being able to play around musically with the sound from piece to piece.  

If you look at some of the big historic composers, they often carved out a stylistic niche based on the players who were consistently available to them.  If you had trumpets and the cathedral in other important cathedral town didn't, by gum you were going to show off your trumpets as prominently as possible, and to balance that, you would make other stylistic choices.  If the princess was studying harp, you would show a sudden interest in the instrument yourself, and that would lend itself to certain other decisions.  

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I hadn't thought of that, the value of pragmatism. I'd say it's only the form of it that changes throughout the years.

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On 11/24/2018 at 3:56 PM, Ken320 said:

I am just wondering if people find the idea of being a totally original composer all important. Thoughts?

I don't know how many younger people you hang around with but this is a big thing right now. Trying to "original"; the modernist period has come back from the dead.

There's this huge wave of emerging EDM artists and film scorers who are so hellbent on learning all of these techniques now. YouTube music theory and composition channels are way more influential than they used to be because people want to know everything they can and twist them to be as "new" as possible. I think this is the first step to the death of art as we know it. So many people are focused on knowing, that they forget that part of knowing is doing. They don't know how to control these techniques, and they plop in Adam Neely's triple polychord or 8-bit Music Theory's non-functional fifths voice leading without knowing how to retain the dramatic arc and it just sounds bad. In other words, the creation of art is being replaced by the creation of sounds.

The question of a composer's style is thus important to them only when it helps them advance their own agendas. If people want to write like John Williams, they'll overuse the lydian fourth over a dominant pedal with a shit ton of horns but don't actually know the history of its usage, and how we got here and why that matters. 

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I don't disagree with anything you said. But I want to add that Modernism can easily become a neurosis when it supercedes other concerns. Like when a composer, of any age, neglects dramatic arc as you say, or any of the many things that make music music. Then the music can become sterile and dull. And part of this neurosis is driven by politics, which I've suspected for a long time. I mean the broad, insidious kind, like political correctness - but only for music. It can affect anyone's judgment, young or old. Btw, did you read the article I posted on Modernism and Post Modernism? It's a good read.

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I have read it, but it was when you first posted it, so I don't much remember it. 
Modernism's creed isn't bad when it's used in conjunction with craft. It just oftentimes does not.
I'm not really sure how the argument about political correctness furthers postmodern idealism, which is itself actually rooted in the issue of politics - it just now has extended its scope and lost its original meaning. 

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I agree with you about the ideals of Modernism.They were clear enough. But I'm not sure that Postmodernism had an ideal to begin with. It's unclear whether Postmodernism is an extreme continuation of Modernism or a repudiation of it, so says the article. By politics we don't mean "parties" or platforms, right? But more of a pressure to conform to an external will. Because why would we compose music if, in the end, it didn't conform to something? Something already established. However, the question remians - who's will? And what for?

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I don't myself have a problem with modern art as long as there are processes to the craft. Schoenberg, Boulez, Xenakis, Stravinsky, Webern, and Prokofiev all had ideals that let the art actually emerge from process and the results can be very effective (emphasis on can). I don't want to sound as though pushing the envelope in art is a bad thing, as it's a natural progression. Schenkerian theory is, for example, a retroactive modern approach to tonal harmony. The piece you wrote for this last competition is an example of the progression of art and music into a modern setting, through evolved harmonic and sonic processes. 
I saw some of the other videos by this guy and he has some trouble articulating his arguments when he throws around words like "SJW" for no reason when his argument could be a lot more articulate. In this particular video, I think he pulls the correlation/causation argument fallacy and presents connections as evidence. Not all the time, obviously, but often enough to make me notice. He has a point though, I'll give him that.

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I agree. He could have stayed on the lazy/elitist/disigenuous points. But apparently he's other gripes. And also, he's a 'personality' selling content. Personally, it has taken me a long time to realize, without guidance, that experimentation is only as good as my ability to assure a coherent payoff. Still, with the odds being low, I champion experimentation, as you do.

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