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This phrase has always hit me as somewhat foreign.  It makes more sense to me when applied to an instrumentalist… But for a composer, this idea sounds somewhat constricting.  What if one arrives 'at this voice'.  Does one then just hang onto it?  A lot of artist and composers seem to.  To make a niche that is all their own, is the goal it would seem…  Some composers/artists  have found great variety within their 'voice' ..and it seems to have not limited them at all… 

Yet this idea seems to have also limited some composers'/ artists' expressive scope..

Today we can fill ourselves with the vast historical record of what has been done, like no other time before…  Pour all these musical shapes and attendant responses deep into the psyche for a few decades… Who can say how the unconscious mixes it all up, and how it expresses it's fullness in our compositional creativity...

To me, each piece has a voice that wants to be released - if we are lucky -….. The parameters ('style') in which that happens - to me is quite fluid… and can shift radically from piece to piece.. And even within one piece one can imply many styles - that are going thru and around… 

Funny, it seems that Bowie - if he would've hung on to Ziggy Stardust -As his voice, we never would have gotten his great funk album "Young Americans', with the 'thin white duke' … Or his progressive side with "Station to Station"… to his breakdown album 'Aladdin Sane" - 'Breaking Glass'…to his minimalist heroic "Heroes" with Fripp and eno's colorful light display… to 'Scary Monsters' and 'Fashion' as social commentary thru acerbic wit and grit..

I guess Bowie comes to mind, in order to address this idea of 'identity' (voice) - and question if 'finding one's voice' is a good idea at all?

When Bernstein went Broadway, Koussevitzky - and many others thought ill of his decision.

Miles always wanted to do a rock album,,, but didn't...

Mozart's mass in C minor ( a Later work) sounds a lot like Bach.

Perhaps this is just semantics, and some identities have just greater scopes than others, and that is neither a good or a bad thing in and of itself. (?)

For me, (mostly) composition wasn't something about finding my voice - 'not sounding like another'…  but more that each piece Is its own voice…  (if it works) … and it may indeed sound like many others,  however much derivative (pejoratively or not) - is in the ear of the beholder...

Some random thoughts at the end of the day…  

 

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Joseph,

Hilarious!

(If i had seen that before my previous post, I wouldn't have mentioned 'Backgammon' ...

I'm listening to Beethoven's Fourth right now.  It'll take me several listens to take in, however.

Water Bear, I was going to suggest listening to Zinman conduct - i love his approach to Beethoven.. But that is not available on youtube.. 

Here is a  is a fantastic version: (C. Kleiber)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3-jlAamGCE

(Here is a brief interview with Zinman on his approach to Beethoven...

He mentions that the 'cutoff point'  for him is the 3rd symphony --  "after which,  music was never the same".. And I would agree, except I would say that the 3rd is a warm up for the 'real' cutoff point - the 4th.. :) 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-1d4UXaZjo

Abbado's version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxO7Ynh97L8

Bernstein:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCfLVUeJVqQ

I guess to me that the thing is, each composer has his or her great strengths, and that, once they have found these out, it becomes an easy matter to write to those strengths pretty much as a matter of rote. And yet, of course, we have lots of examples of composers making deliberate breaks from their comfort zones, wherein a dissatisfaction has set in, and a need to prove to oneself that there is more in them than merely rehashing what has worked for them before. And if this is successful, well, then, as you've said, lo, and behold, all of a sudden therein lies a new voice, a bonus maybe unexpected, and an assurance for the composer that he can transcend himself after all, which must be an incredible satisfaction. 

It is really simple for me, there's no "finding", you already have one. These are things that you like (at this moment), you don't even have to compose to find your voice. I pointed out (at this moment), because through time those things will change (to a certain point), and not through finding but experiencing, otherwise, in that case, "finding" sound more like "forcing yourself", in my opinion.

gregorio X said: 
"What if one arrives 'at this voice'.  Does one then just hang onto it?  A lot of artist and composers seem to."

Yes, because there is less chance to experience something diffrent or new, that you might like, when you're are older.

Using my composing partly as a means of trying to understand classical music from past eras I have composed romantic Lieder, classical string quartets and works in a baroque style but still I think I always sound very much alike. I believe that it is in a way my voice that comes through. Being a melodist melodies are my strenghts (I am first and foremost a singer by instrument) and I know what kind of singable melodies I like.
What developes is my craftsmanship in terms of how I harmonize, how I structure musical form and how I write the different parts. Also my knowledge of the instruments and my ability to write larger forms and develope the melodies grow in time.
But somehow the melodies stay the same.
I think that might be true for many composers, only the melodies can sometimes be replaced by rythms or harmonies or soundscapes depending on who the composer is.

Rafał Żebrowski said:

(...)

gregorio X said: 
"What if one arrives 'at this voice'.  Does one then just hang onto it?  A lot of artist and composers seem to."

Yes, because there is less chance to experience something different or new, that you might like, when you're are older.

Rafal,

Assuming that you are quite a bit younger than I am, let me give you a piece of great news which, for some reason, seems to generally be kept a secret:

The experiencing of new things and the personal inner evolution into new realms doesn't really stop.  For some people, it doesn't even slow down.  The idea that some young people may have about middle aged and older people, as beings who are stable and settled, is simply mistaken.  I hope you will believe me.  :-)

'speaking' of cage...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qWPCoayhjY 

(How  does the commentary offered - highlighting the criticism - "the sound of chewing sand" affect the way one hears this piece… Is humor (if it indeed is, in  this context) a way of venting a 'sense of confusion'?

We see also this attendant humor  w/ regard to a similar approach  to composition:

(start at the 40 second mark)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MewcnFl_6Y

And continuing on a theme, however morphing,

I would posit that humor is deliberately part of this composition, which also employs a somewhat expanded harmonic palette in some places.. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jydefh3sMFM

" Is humor (if it indeed is, in this context) a way of venting a 'sense of confusion'?"

I don't know.

In Cage's music, generally, I think humor (if we are indeed talking about humor as part of a composer's musical voice) is intended to to make us laugh, inwardly, or outwardly, with an eye towards helping us "not take things too seriously."  

Comedy and Humor are the great equalizers.  Sometimes music and musicians take themselves too seriously (just like everyone else), and with exemplars like Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Schumann, Schubert and Haydn (who are not the most humorous people on Earth), composers may find themselves in need of composers like John Cage, Prokofiev and Shostakovich,  Erik Satie, and many French composers, whose works are full of satire, irony, jokes, quips and light moments, in addition to serious and beautiful passages.

John Cage's essential nature is that of the humorist, and the Zen Buddhist, who tries to penetrate to the spirit of things that lies behind the surface reality-- Zen koans, puzzles, attention to the reality that exists in the present moment, attention to sound and to sound itself (and nothing else), attention to all things apart from what is pretentious, is the hallmark of that kind of attitude.

 

I'm sorry but I can't agree.
Let me put this in another example, and i'm gonna talk here about majority of people(!). If you're older there is bigger chance that you ate more fruits than 6 year old kid, and by so, there's less chance to experience new taste and you proably already picked your favorite one .
In other words, lets say there's 100 edible fruits on earth (so the number of experience is limited and with every fruit you are slowing down to the point when there is nothing new), so how can you tell that you don't slowing down? 

Of course you can keep your inner evolution by experiencing different fields, but there're limits when we're talking about one (music).

water bear said:

Rafał Żebrowski said:

(...)

gregorio X said: 
"What if one arrives 'at this voice'.  Does one then just hang onto it?  A lot of artist and composers seem to."

Yes, because there is less chance to experience something different or new, that you might like, when you're are older.

Rafal,

Assuming that you are quite a bit younger than I am, let me give you a piece of great news which, for some reason, seems to generally be kept a secret:

The experiencing of new things and the personal inner evolution into new realms doesn't really stop.  For some people, it doesn't even slow down.  The idea that some young people may have about middle aged and older people, as beings who are stable and settled, is simply mistaken.  I hope you will believe me.  :-)

continuing with humor - and modernism_ 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSAsn9u3e8U

Here is the same singer doing Ligeti's "Mysteries of the Macabre" ... Quite striking! - 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFFpzip-SZk

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