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Saw an interesting comment in a post in the upload where someone was trying to describe their music in terms of whether they were 'neo-baroque' or not. So, figured it'd be an interesting discussion to be had -but... I don't want to just see a one word explanation of your music. So, I'll describe how I view my work -my language, my view, nada nada nada- and then you can follow suit. In other words, let's make this a valuable discussion.

I consider my music to be chiefly modern. By that, I use a harmonic language rich in dissonance and outside of the traditional concepts of tonality (notice I didn't say my music was purely atonal). I do consider harmony and tonality to some degree -even in my more serial guided works. I also consider myself a neo-classicist. I strongly value form and tradition and believe staunchly in utilizing structure to make the most out of limited material (hence you'll see a lot of development and counterpoint within my works). I also, at times, borrow from other aesthetics and fuse different -often far separated- techniques together. It's not a fetch to see a whole tone derived section within a work of mine that is heavily centered on a serial row. Thus, you could say I'm a neo-classical modern eclectic. 

 

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I consider my own music to be a mix of Classical and Romantic values. Let me explain that further. My phrase structure often is in typical forms for the Classical Era, sentences and periods. But, I don't simply stick to chords common for the Classical Era. Sometimes I use an augmented triad, which I have heard some people call "the +5 chord" or "the yearning chord". Sometimes, if I want to achieve an ambient atmosphere, I use minor seventh chords, the most peaceful sounding seventh chords in closed position. Sometimes, I even use a root position Neopolitan or a second inversion Neopolitan. I most commonly use these as part of a circle of fifths sequence and with the root position Neopolitan, I resolve it down to the tonic, usually minor, as though it is part of a subtonic seventh chord if you know what I mean(so Db major moving down to C minor tonic for example as though the Db major is really just part of a Bbm7). I tend to concentrate on the melody and then fit the harmony into it. Though there are some pieces where I go the other way, starting with the harmony and then deriving a melody from it.

If you look at my earlier works and then my later works, you can see that my earlier works tend to be harmonically simple, with most of the motion coming from a single melodic line. Whereas in my later works, you see a lot more motives and counterpoint and instrumental dialogue in general. And while there are some pieces where I'm like "I'm going to write this in the form of a Rondo" or whatever, a lot more of my works have become tone painting works. Even my second attempt at a symphony is itself a tone painting. The form on the small scale is like Mozart. The form on the large scale is like Chopin or Debussy, just flowing from 1 section to another. The harmony is a lot like Beethoven, especially in my minor key pieces and even more especially in C minor. The way that the melody is built is also a lot like Beethoven in quite a few works of mine, simple building blocks forming a complex melody as the motive gets twisted and expanded and contracted and as the rhythmic and melodic parts of the motive divorce and come back together. When it isn't like Beethoven, the melody is more like Chopin, virtuosic and ever so flowing. But even Chopin doesn't avoid melodic motives alltogether. An example of a more motivic Chopin piece is his C minor Prelude. Even though one could argue "There is no bit of melody, it is just chords" there actually is a melodic and rhythmic motive hidden within those chords.

So I guess you could say that my music is neo-romantic because it tends towards Beethoven and the early romantic composers, especially Chopin in terms of harmony, melody, etc. with a bit of neo-baroque thrown in, as my counterpoint tends to be like Bach's, individual melodies simple, entire result complex and even virtuosic.

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I'll start with eclectic. I'm the chef who wants to try every dish on the planet, and some that aren't. Life is short and I'm not an intellectual when you get right down to it. I go by instinct and my own sense of aesthetics. I am very confident in this. I believe that whatever the musical expression - this is wide open - it should aspire to be beautiful. We don't have to define beauty here, do we? I don't like the vulgar, the cheap or the political. There is a deceptive aspect to the undercurrents of modernism and what have you. You could almost say that there is a certain politics to it.

It might be helpful to say that I was raised on Pop music, so I tend to write shorter pieces. I admire those that think in the classical symphonic forms, that are at home with writing long pieces, or a modern long piece as well. But I am making progress to address this. And I'm at the point now with tonality that I think I can make compelling tonal works.

Also, lately I've been focusing on melody and emotion. And this necessarily means a familiar harmonic language. But should I want to convey an emotion that can't be achieved this way I will adopt a different method without hesitation, or just plain do it, as I have many modernist piece here already.  I approach the act of composing by recognizing things I'm playing in my head subconsciously. I attach a mood to it. Somber, slow, happy, fast, something with a pulse or in your face. Whatever. Broad strokes. Anything to get past the blank empty page phase. Then I try things out on piano. I have to hear it on piano and not just in my head. I guess I'm deficient that way. I would say that some of most enjoyable moments in composing come when I finally know how something will end. Everything is so much easier then.

Edited by Ken320
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Ok, I'll put in my tuppenceworth because yes, it's sometimes enlightening to learn how composers view their own music. I hope others add to it.

The nearest popular label is Impressionist, when not being a hack. Not “programme music” though. 

I suppose by definition it’s atonal because I don’t write with key in mind though it can pass through tonal moments. I don’t use barlines in the initial stages of composing. Sometimes use coloured pastels on grey or black paper. It’s all sound organisation - sometimes with a utility purpose, sometimes for an audience whether live or public exposure as a recording. I’m not happy writing in keys unless it’s light music.  Anything that makes a sound is a potential source.

I rarely write for full orchestra now except to keep in practice and with the hope that the County orchestra might one day perform it.  Otherwise I like ensemble writing, anything from string quartet to about 15 players. I’ve tried applying formal structures and usually fail. Tending to through-compose and working in motifs, it’s more about proportion to me.  I'm hopeless at melody writing hence the few solos I've composed - at least to try. As I commented earlier, the music comes from my inner ear and the physical me is there to capture what I can of it. I suppose to those emotionally responsive it "comes from the heart" - mainly!

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I think the best word to describe my music is "neo-romantic."

I write music that I feel is easy and pleasing to listen to - not necessarily 'light music' but not avant-garde.

My style is not so similar to Romantic composers as to be reminiscent of any one, rather in a review I received here I was told that:

"One minute I'm hearing Mendelssohn's influence, the next a little Tchaikovsky." I believe it was @J. Lee Graham who said that, a composer who is obviously also a traditional tonalist.

My biggest works are largely Romantic. There are some minor 20th century inflections that I add, such as an unusual modulation or chord choice. I also like to utilise new instruments such as the Contraforte, or ones which slipped into obscurity during the Romantic period such as the alto trombone. NB: The alto trombone is a wonderful addition to the orchestral brass section. Listen to many orchestral pieces from the Classical era, including Beethoven's symphonies to hear it in action.

In chamber works however, there is a larger scope of influence, especially from the music of Scotland, where I live. Classical pieces that I have written include sections with common Scottish musical ideas, and a string sextet that I am writing has the finale as a harmonised Strathspey dance.

In the age of the internet and globalisation, we have a huge range of musical influences from throughout the world. Ethnomusicology is a growing area of study, and we composers have the freedom to write whatever we want, whether from orchestras with oboes and strings, or for ensembles with sitar, gamelan and electronics.

What we should never forget is the universal language of music. Atonality has become common and respected, and this poses the risk of us tonalists being forgotten or actively disregarded. The worst thing that I could hear is not an experimentalist piece by Stockhausen. It's not a calculated serialist sonata. It's just four words:

"Find your own voice."

Who has the right to dictate anyone's compositional style?

Edited by aMusicComposer
Typo. Never forget the power of proofreading!
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I write mostly schlock; sometimes garbage.

I'm not well-trained enough to give this any serious thought, and I don't think it would matter if I did. I would say, though, that the Late Romantic and Impressionist composers have the most influence on me, and that's the kind of music I try to emulate. It's not current, but that's what I like, so it's all good!

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10 hours ago, aMusicComposer said:

 

"One minute I'm hearing Mendelssohn's influence, the next a little Tchaikovsky." I believe it was @J. Lee Graham who said that, a composer who is obviously also a traditional tonalist.

"Find your own voice."

Who has the right to dictate anyone's compositional style?

 

J. Lee is awesome. Were FB friends now. Would love to see him back here.

As for those 4 words that you fear.. dont fear them and dont think that its anyone dictating what your style should be. Just make sure that you write what you want to write and how you want to write it. Your voice will come and it doesnt need to be sought for. These words rang just as true during the time of my biggest influence, Mozart, as they do today. There's nothing wrong about them -and they don't mean that you have to write music you're uncomfortable writing. Good music is good music regardless of aesthetic. 

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3 hours ago, jawoodruff said:

There's nothing wrong about them -and they don't mean that you have to write music you're uncomfortable writing. Good music is good music regardless of aesthetic.

Well said. Indeed we should just write the music that we want to! Composing began as a little pursuit for me, but now that I take it much more seriously I'm thinking always more about these things. This is a great discussion point you have here!

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10 minutes ago, aMusicComposer said:

Well said. Indeed we should just write the music that we want to! Composing began as a little pursuit for me, but now that I take it much more seriously I'm thinking always more about these things. This is a great discussion point you have here!

 

When I was in the conservatory, there was a tad bit of pressure from my peers to venture outside of the box. I chose to go the route I'm on now though. I know a few classmates who still write tonally and they do well at it  🙂

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This is interesting.

Having in mind that music and composition for me is a passion and not my occupation or profession, everything changes.

I write music as a personal adventure, and as a (potential) way to express my emotions (although only I understand the "meaning" of the music).

I think I am eclectic to the extreme. I like to learn all the styles and techniques and use them all as composition tools. No matter if they are tonal, baroque counterpoint, modal, atonal, impressionistic, expressionistic, minimal, tone clock theory or whatever. This is something many people don't understand and dislike in my music sometimes. I don't see a problem when putting a a major 3rd over a minor chord. I have studied classic tonal music, but it has no longer meaning for me in terms of writing, at least as exact imitation of those periods. I respect the work of everybody, and I myself write tonal music, although I always try to introduce modern elements. 

So, I'm into contemporary techniques of composition. Not only atonalism, which is what everybody thinks when saying "contemporary". There are many many other ways to organize the music. I like to explore all of them, even mixing them.... And, in the end, what I search for is working with all that big palette of tools to translate some emotions into music. Hard, isn't it? That's why, apart from many things I compose as a training, I write less pieces now.

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1 hour ago, Luis Hernández said:

 

I think I am eclectic to the extreme. I like to learn all the styles and techniques and use them all as composition tools. No matter if they are tonal, baroque counterpoint, modal, atonal, impressionistic, expressionistic, minimal, tone clock theory or whatever. This is something many people don't understand and dislike in my music sometimes. I don't see a problem when putting a a major 3rd over a minor chord. I have studied classic tonal music, but it has no longer meaning for me in terms of writing, at least as exact imitation of those periods. I respect the work of everybody, and I myself write tonal music, although I always try to introduce modern elements. 

 

 

 

I reckon that's pretty important so you can turn on to almost anything that comes to mind or if you're asked to compose something (paid or not) for a show or something. Across time we study all the techniques. I still have to master pop tunes but seem to get by otherwise - fake Mozart for a stately home show; a contemporary dance piece; a snippet for an ad. It's all there so are the technical means to realise it  nowadays - and it can only get better. 

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8 hours ago, Luis Hernández said:

Not only atonalism, which is what everybody thinks when saying "contemporary".

This was me a few years ago. Now, my eyes have been opened to the vast array of new music, mostly due to a new music organisation where I live that run workshops with pro composers, courses and a festival. It's great to meet other composers, and I have discovered so many new 'voices' that I can use in composition.

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I've done basically everything from metal to fluxus-style performances with copymachines and dancers, so I have no idea. In the last few years I've been writing a series of long-form neoromantic-like sonatas and slowly I'm making them more and more "modern." Right now I'm finishing an Oboe sonata that's pretty big on quartal and extended harmonies. I'm also working on my second rock(?) album. Either way, I really don't like to think of my music in terms of style or whatever. To me the biggest and most important thing is: Do I think it's cool? If YES, then I consider it mission accomplished. IF no, then nobody gets to see it until I think it's good enough.

 

And it turns out I think a -lot- of things are pretty cool, hence my music ends up being all over the place, as a quick trip to my youtube channel or bandcamp page would demonstrate.

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I am very romantic in my compositions.  I rarely write in any other style.   The atonal music I was forced to write I tend to just keep stashed away :).

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I would classify my music as contrapuntal, and go no farther in classifying it than that. Fux's Gradus Ad Parnassum and its various offshoots are my biggest influences other than actual music that I enjoy.

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Posted (edited)

I would classify my music as neoclassical.

I use the symethrical phrasing of the classical style, basic harmony of tonic, subdominant, dominant in that order most of the time.

And, IDK if this could be considerer at the time of classifying but, almost ALL of my pieces are in minor, only 1 or 2 are in major, in my early works (not much time ago), my music was only in minor, nowadays I use major as a secondary tonality. That's because when I compose something in major, it just sounds awful.

Also, my melodies tend to be very skippy and i use a LOT of arpeggios, my music is quite simple.

I consider myself as a very very young musician that has a LOT to learn.

Edited by Tortualex

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In a nutshell, I don't know.

Harmonically, up until only recently I've stuck to conventional Western major and minor scales: do, re, mi, and so forth. Nowadays I like to use altered scales to construct harmonies and melodies. It's fun, adventurous, and probably sounds terrible. I suppose that would make me a post-tonal composer. I like well-placed dissonance as much as I like well-placed consonance.

Structurally, I guess I follow Impressionism closest. Thematic development is done carefully, over the life of the piece. There's typically a strong sense of melody and emotional use of dynamics.

I wouldn't know what label to put on myself. I've not been to music school and all those fancy terms escape me. Someone more musically educated than me can tell me what label I fit under. As @Luis Hernández said, I do this as a passion and not as a job, so I'm able to devote a lot of time to experimenting with various styles.

Great question, thanks for posing it!

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I  know more about my identity when my fellows comment on my music. There are always some difference how people perceive my work vs my feelings, and I choose to embrace it. 

I feel like I am a modern composer, with little use of functional harmony. My works are usually full of altered and dissonant chords. And many people have found my music jazz-y because of that, despite I am classically trained in Violin. 

Usually full of contrast (at least I think I did) in characters. I am quite a fan of Prokofiev and Shostakovich, so I would say I am kinda influenced by them.  My music is also influenced by Rachmaninov, so you probably find heavy use of blocky chords and chromaticism. 

I usually think of the melodic lines before I harmonize them. And to be honest, I don't have a well-planned structure for most of my work. You may say I am always improvising on papers and develop motifs in a free-form way.

I am currently exploring the boundaries of modern music... I have been using complex rhythms, micro-tonalities and serialism lately. 

Do you think I am describing myself accurately? 😄

@aMusicComposer Great to hear that! I wish I have more chances interacting with musicians in my city... But I have also attempted to engage more in the international music communities lately. 

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