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Left Unexplained

As a developing composer...

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As a developing composer I find it difficult to find the same creative spark that came from the "freedom" of being able to do anything I wanted. I find myself turning more and more to technique and things I've read about than my own creative instincts. I know this betrayal of my true self is a temporary one, until my unconscious acclimates to a new environment and things start to flow better than they ever did before. But for right now I find myself stuck between two worlds, my brain and my heart.

I would like to talk about how important it is to keep composing no matter your skill level. I think at times composing can be very painful, especially when your inadequacies are at the forefront of your consciousness. Yes it's great to better yourself and work on your weaknesses, but you should never come to a point where you despise being vulnerable. Weakness makes a beautiful sound. Being scared does too. Your shadow is likely the source of a good chunk of your creativity. Maybe you shouldn't give yourself unlimited options as a composer but just understand that being, untouched, is limitless.

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[Overchoice takes place when] the advantages of diversity and individualization are canceled by the complexity of buyer's decision-making process.

— From Alvin Toffler, Future Shock, 1971

I think that's relevant to your bit there. There's a lot of value in freedom, sure, but the whole idea of "we can do anything" is not a very pragmatic one. We can pick and choose from everything, yes, but at the end of the day you need to make choices and discard some things and keep others. Eventually, all those options need to disappear to leave just what actually ends up being done.

 

I think the classic example of this is when people are learning orchestration and arrangement. This is because of the vast amount of options you have when you're doing those things, but it can be really hard to get a grip on what actually "needs to be done," rather than "could be done." Needs in this case being the individual's musical intuition/musical preference/etc. This is also why it's such a classic pedagogic trick to start people off with very strict rulesets for things that in reality have no rules, since it gives you a framework. Some would argue that it kind of shackles your mind to imaginary boundaries and eventually that's a problem, but that's still preferable to an Overchoice induced musical paralysis

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overchoice musical paralysis, yes. The whole reason I'm working on music + composition theory. I know it will catch on soon it's just the stuff I make right now by ear is like 5x as good as the stuff I make using theory and my conscious knowledge.

But I do think that we have access to amazing feelings and there are some things we cannot explain. It's not so much the concept of limitlessness I'm talking about I mean more like.. the lack of any concept at all.

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4 minutes ago, Left Unexplained said:

It's not so much the concept of limitlessness I'm talking about I mean more like.. the lack of any concept at all.

I always got that feeling when I was trying out systems of composition. Usually stuff where there was some mechanism by which music ended up being made, which wasn't informed by my tastes in any direct way. I think all those were really interesting experiences and I revisit them often, because there is something there that I can't consciously create. Just like a set of counterpoint rules are agnostic to your music tastes, there are a lot of techniques that color music in ways that you would otherwise not even think of doing without them.

 

So, I'll give you an example:

And you know how the score looks for this?

Steve-Reich-pendulum-music.gif.eec7eed00968cdfa94f76f609cf2e341.gif

 

That's process music, right there. The instructions create sound, yeah, but there are so many things left to the interpreters, to the room, etc. It's experimental in that each musical result is different every time (it's not exact at all.)

 

Is it a piece with a concept? I don't think so. Steve Reich thought it was kind of funny if it's done right, supposedly! The actual sound you get from this is quite strange, but I think the greater lesson is not that microphones and speakers make weird noises, but that you can extrapolate this into just about any genre of music. It all depends on what kind of system you want to use, how exact you are about it, and what degree of "randomness" are you willing to accept.

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that is a really good example. I guess for me composition is a state of mind, and nonconceptual "gamma wave" consciousness is limitless because you go beyond the "limits" of your physical body and kind of realize that you are an interconnected part of a greater whole. Some may say it's just an optical illusion in the eye of the mind, but music (or any other meaningful expression) is the evidence that your psyche, your imagination, is just as real as your body or the earth.

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