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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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Haydn was full of humour, but in a discreat way sometimes. And never to the point that it took away focus from his craftsmanship. Many composers look away from that when then try to be homourous, but it isn't always benefitting for the pieces. Haydns music can be appreciated without ever getting that he is homourous and little goes away if you miss out on it. At the same time much can be gained from notising.
Rafal,

The number of different fruits is inexhaustible. And even the very same fruit can be experienced and understood in an inexhaustible number of ways at many different tiers of experience. Also, your favorite fruit can and does change. Additionally, fruit you used to dislike might taste delicious later on.

A hypothetical example: A person highly focused on composition so far might very well, at the age of, say, 45, become fascinated by plant taxonomy. S/he might start studying it. At age 51, say, a fascination with Arabic caligraphy might develop and start the study of the Arabic language and writing. A person retiring from their job at age 68, say, may have so many strong interests that the main problem will be which ones to focus on.

By the way, you wrote that you're sorry you can't agree. Was that just a polite manner of speech, or do you actually feel sorry about something? I'm just curious.




Rafał Żebrowski said:

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.  :-)

Bach was able to be humorous (and "suggestive") with his music - have you heard his Coffee Cantata, which is really an operetta, isn't it?

And as greogrio X said (I should extended the qoute):  

"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… "

isn't it the same, as "the very same fruit can be experienced and understood in an inexhaustible number of ways" ?

but it's still the same fruit/voice and of course without varieties it would be impossible to compose more than one piece at some period of your life. 

I guess it was just a "polite manner of speech


water bear said:

Rafal,

The number of different fruits is inexhaustible. And even the very same fruit can be experienced and understood in an inexhaustible number of ways at many different tiers of experience.

Once again as I said: "Of course you can keep your inner evolution by experiencing different fields, but there're limits when we're talking about one (music).

And "i'm gonna talk here about majority of people(!)"

water bear said:


A hypothetical example: A person highly focused on composition so far might very well, at the age of, say, 45, become fascinated by plant taxonomy. S/he might start studying it. At age 51, say, a fascination with Arabic caligraphy might develop and start the study of the Arabic language and writing. A person retiring from their job at age 68, say, may have so many strong interests that the main problem will be which ones to focus on.
.



But the field of music is so vast... I started composing two and a half years ago, at age 49. I've been composing in an emotional baroque style (as I call it). What's to stop my fascination with fados to grow further and compel me to start writing fados instead of baroque music? What if when I'm 60 I will be focused on composing in a jazz-Indian fusion style of my own creation? Or to jump onto a musical bandwagon that someone else will come up with next year? Or what if instead I apply baroque mannerisms to hip-hop? If I live to be 1,111 years old, I will have barely started exploring musical possibilities, plus by then the number of new genres will have grown.

Thank you for the polite expression, and I'm glad that you were just being polite.

I hope that in Poland it is well accepted socially to have a dialog packed with disagreements. In my country, Portugal, it's okay, or better than okay. Most of the time, anyway.


Rafał Żebrowski said:

Once again as I said: "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:


A hypothetical example: A person highly focused on composition so far might very well, at the age of, say, 45, become fascinated by plant taxonomy. S/he might start studying it. At age 51, say, a fascination with Arabic caligraphy might develop and start the study of the Arabic language and writing. A person retiring from their job at age 68, say, may have so many strong interests that the main problem will be which ones to focus on.
.


Right now i don't even know what is the issue, my statement about "one's voice" is:
"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 it seems like you do what you like so...?

btw. by "to a certain point" I was referring to "Does one then just hang onto it?  A lot of artist and composers seem to"

water bear said:


But the field of music is so vast... I started composing two and a half years ago, at age 49. I've been composing in an emotional baroque style (as I call it). What's to stop my fascination with fados to grow further and compel me to start writing fados instead of baroque music? What if when I'm 60 I will be focused on composing in a jazz-Indian fusion style of my own creation? Or to jump onto a musical bandwagon that someone else will come up with next year? Or what if instead I apply baroque mannerisms to hip-hop? If I live to be 1,111 years old, I will have barely started exploring musical possibilities, plus by then the number of new genres will have grown.

Thank you for the polite expression, and I'm glad that you were just being polite.
Thanks for the chat, Rafal.

Thank you, too.

I can't think of a better example of a group that 'found their voice'

and yet evolved with their music , over decades, and remained

creatively unique while at the same time retaining their own voice.

I am speaking of the Beatles. Can you name another?

I think the idea of finding tour voice is like Dr. Doolittles push me- pull you.

One the one hand, you may seek after it, but on the other hand, you really

can't escape it. You will have a signature sound that others can detect and

hear that is uniquely yours. Consciously or unconsciously.

If the fruit was for instance, the 12 bar blues; Just think of the huge variety

of works that have come from that 1 fruit.

Success always inspires 'copycats'. That is not to say that those copycats

aren't original, but with a good ear and knowledge of the genre, you can

trace the 'sound' back to the mainspring.

This opens up a whole new discussion tho'.

Who exactly were the genuine original creative minds thru history...

and where do you think their 'inspiration' came from?

A piece of friut dropping on their head, an accidental discovery, drugs?

I have always been fascinated by the idea of genuine creativity and where

that 'voice' is born.                                             RS

Attachments:

Good topic Gregorio and great points have been made here. Nicholas said not to confuse voice with style. I agree and also don't confuse style or voice with the actual piece. Each piece has a unique content that should be considered separately from style or genre even for the same composer.

Nicholas Kelly said:

I think all of these replies are great. It's important not to confuse "voice" with "style"--instead, I think Water Bear hit the nail on the head when she said it's an "undercurrent" in an artist's work.

For example, Richard Strauss's trademark Romantic theatricality comes through even in his Neoclassical and Expressionistic works--very different sounds and styles. Stravinsky famously changed style many times throughout his career, but there are certain threads that underlie his work and give it all a distinct Stravinsky sound. Even Arnold Schoenberg's early works (in a tonal, romantic idiom) have some of the same little quirks that help differentiate his later atonal works from those of his contemporaries.

In short, if composing is telling your unique story through music (as Rodney says), I think different aspects of that story can and will require different musical styles and ideas. But if you hone your craft and study a wide variety of music, whatever is unique about your story will come through in all of your work regardless.

I mean it is possible to say something new using an old language, and to say something not so new (and not so interesting) in a new language. What each individual piece has to say may be ultimately most important.

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