Composers' Forum

Music Composers Unite!

Hello to all members,

This post is to announce our Winter Music Contest - members were asked to create a piece which evokes the idea of Winter. The rules of the contest are simple: any instrumentation, 7 minutes or less in duration. 16 members total submitted entries, making this one of the most-participated-in contests which I have run on this site! Please take some time to listen to these entries and vote your top three. The winners will have the honor of having their entries posted to the top of the home page of the site until the first day of summer! Please click the link below to cast your vote! Deadline is 2/14/2015 at 5 pm EST!!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/R2733RF

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Mr. Lonely, on this, you and I agree - I would like to see this forum be more about the contributors here than references to the past - what is composition about, if not about doing something new?

The Lonely Goat said:


Me (I), being someone who doesn't give a fig for discussing the attributes of some dead or not so dead composer who we may or may not find some content to write a long winded essay on, would rather be involved in folks making their own music.

I echo the words of Roger Stancil, who said, about the contest, “It was fun and surprising tho' to hear all the stylings and approaches to the idea of Winter.  Each entry had it's own merits and interesting aspects.”  I also agree with Roger’s comment, “this contest was difficult to judge,” for reasons that have already been discussed thoroughly and in some detail.

 

The contest has sparked a few remarks on the future course of conversation on the forum.  On the issue of “discussing the attributes of some dead or not so dead composer,” I would like to share the following:  I believe we are here to champion the maxim: “Music Composers Unite.” There is plenty of room here for people to discuss any kind of composer (alive or dead) from any era they might wish to discuss.  And there is room for people to choose NOT to talk about any composer they might wish to avoid even thinking about.

 

I say, in the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood and general amity, let us all be tolerant and appreciative of all the contributions made by all members of the forum, and by all composers.  Many of us will say that Beethoven is our brother (our elder brother, so-to-speak).  He taught us “Alle Menschen werden Brüder” (that, “All men are brothers”) for the same reasons the poet Schiller did, many musicans and the great teachers of the best spiritual traditions did.  Should we be admonished not be interested in a discussion involving Beethoven, Stravinsky or Poulenc simply because they are dead?”

 

I have to confess, when I read about and listen to the music of past composers, those who are dead (or even nearly dead) I often feel a sense of kinship that borders on the personal.  If we consider our obligations to the present, and the admonition that we pay attention to promoting and creating what is “new,” I believe I have championed that cause here as much as anyone.  It may also appear to be a fact that some music still sounds “new” and has much to teach us, even though it may have been written decades ago. I might cite a few examples, particular works by Milhaud, Scelsi, Stockhausen, Cage or Misato Mochizuki (who is still alive, and still a “beautiful woman,” for those who think that physical “deadness” or “near deadness” is relevant to the evaluation of compositions).

 

Misato Mochizuki - Si bleu, si calme

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r66LJ3Rd1mg

 

Would it be a stretch to say we have as much to learn from Varese, Xenakis, Ligeti, and Pierre Henry as we do from living composers and from each other?  I see no reason to doubt that it is possible.  Regarding the issue of “being dead,” or “not so dead,” I wonder—given what I hear on the radio sometimes, in the supermarket, on TV or in the popular arena— what words like “dead” actually mean. I wonder whether some of the music “of today,” is not actually less alive, less possessed of the attribute of life, than the music of many supposedly deceased composers.   I see no reason to disbelieve that the “brotherhood” and “sisterhood” of composers extends not merely to those who are physically alive on this planet in the present moment.   If Stockhausen was at all right in his belief, it extends to all times and planets, to all spheres where sentient life exists, before and beyond the grave.  Let’s embrace as much as we can and not try to limit ourselves or each other.

 

Hello Paul Smith.  Here is a short message for you.  You recall that were discussing why composers often “second guess” themselves so often, while in the midst of composing. ---  You began a post saying, “This is certainly a hard one, Ondib, but I'll give it my best shot...” Your reply was admirable.  Somehow, my response to you did not take when I pasted it in, so you only saw the “Paul Smith said:” part of the conversation repeated. The words I wrote were omitted. My reply was a brief one, in which I said yours was an excellent answer, and that the example of the “Beethoven-Brahms” relationship was an extremely good illustration of your point.  Thanks for your well thought out reply.  I’m sure many other ideas will come up in the future, in connection with this issue of the phenomenology of composing, the actual feelings, intuitions, physical sensations and thoughts that occur to one while composing. 

Thanks. As a matter of fact, I was just dealing with these very issues a few minutes ago in a new piece I'm noodling around with. Nothing seems to be taking, and it has been a hard morning, creation-wise. Just to be blunt about it, it's all sounding pretty much like shit... The issues come into play only in the sense that I always want to know I've given it my very best, or to at least genuinely feel that I have. I always try my utmost to keep my ego out of the way of my music, so to speak, but, if I'm honest, I'll admit that, in the back of my mind, there is usually some sense of attempting to measure up to some degree to all those great works of the past. But the fact is, I am certainly NOT a genius at this business of music, but luckily for me it's something that's rather easy for me to accept, too.... thank God.

By the way, I really enjoyed your competition piece, and voted it for most original-sounding, as well as either 2nd or 3rd, I've forgotten which. But I'm afraid I had to go with 'First Snow' for 1st place, although it wasn't an easy decision.

Ondib Olmnilnlolm said:

Hello Paul Smith.  Here is a short message for you.  You recall that were discussing why composers often “second guess” themselves so often, while in the midst of composing. ---  You began a post saying, “This is certainly a hard one, Ondib, but I'll give it my best shot...” Your reply was admirable.  Somehow, my response to you did not take when I pasted it in, so you only saw the “Paul Smith said:” part of the conversation repeated. The words I wrote were omitted. My reply was a brief one, in which I said yours was an excellent answer, and that the example of the “Beethoven-Brahms” relationship was an extremely good illustration of your point.  Thanks for your well thought out reply.  I’m sure many other ideas will come up in the future, in connection with this issue of the phenomenology of composing, the actual feelings, intuitions, physical sensations and thoughts that occur to one while composing. 

Gav, (and Ray aka Lo-Go), I understand your points and agree that a

more peer-to-peer exchange is what Composers Unite is meant to imply.

Altho' looking at the seeming popularity of the majority of threads here

it's appears that the ' other' types of discussions get more views and

participation. It's the drama and the comedy, no doubt.

As I mentioned before, I joined, with the hope of getting some feedback

on my efforts as an amateur music writer from those more adept and

schooled than myself. I enjoy both aspects of the forum, but agree that

dead is dead. (Yes, Ondib, I realize that their music 'lives on'.)

Honestly, I was more disappointed that I got basicly no comments or

feedback(other than the obvious-others are better) from the contest.

I also realize that you are not all qualified teachers, but hell, even a

smart-aleck jab tells me something. Opinions too, can be valuable.

So why are you here?           RS
 
Gav Brown said:

Mr. Lonely, on this, you and I agree - I would like to see this forum be more about the contributors here than references to the past - what is composition about, if not about doing something new?

The Lonely Goat said:


Me (I), being someone who doesn't give a fig for discussing the attributes of some dead or not so dead composer who we may or may not find some content to write a long winded essay on, would rather be involved in folks making their own music.

Hi Roger, you're not likely to get much commentary in a contest, but please feel free to post your entry in the Music Analysis forum after Saturday (I've asked contest participants to wait one week since the contest ended before reposting so that this thread can be a central place of discussion). As far as why I am here, I mostly come to listen to others' works (I listen to everything that is posted on the discussion boards), post my own, and have a few friendly chats here and there about other things.

roger stancill said:

Gav, (and Ray aka Lo-Go), I understand your points and agree that a

more peer-to-peer exchange is what Composers Unite is meant to imply.

Altho' looking at the seeming popularity of the majority of threads here

it's appears that the ' other' types of discussions get more views and

participation. It's the drama and the comedy, no doubt.

As I mentioned before, I joined, with the hope of getting some feedback

on my efforts as an amateur music writer from those more adept and

schooled than myself. I enjoy both aspects of the forum, but agree that

dead is dead. (Yes, Ondib, I realize that their music 'lives on'.)

Honestly, I was more disappointed that I got basicly no comments or

feedback(other than the obvious-others are better) from the contest.

I also realize that you are not all qualified teachers, but hell, even a

smart-aleck jab tells me something. Opinions too, can be valuable.

So why are you here?           RS
 
Gav Brown said:

Mr. Lonely, on this, you and I agree - I would like to see this forum be more about the contributors here than references to the past - what is composition about, if not about doing something new?

The Lonely Goat said:


Me (I), being someone who doesn't give a fig for discussing the attributes of some dead or not so dead composer who we may or may not find some content to write a long winded essay on, would rather be involved in folks making their own music.

For sure, not all of us feel that way, G. I know I sure as hell don't. All I ever strive to do is the very best I can, without having any illusions whatsoever about any of it being "great". Sometimes I think you're a little too cynical about the folks here.    

The Lonely Goat said:

Roger,

I was speaking for myself totally and selfishly when I gave my opinion on my interests in music, neither expecting nor canvassing for agreement with any other member. A silent majority is the way of the world, few are willing to be involved in any kind of critique because they most probably feel unqualified. Now there are certain aspects in music of which I am totally comfortable when discussing but then........here.............I think, no, my size 10's probably won't be understood or appreciated.......shut up. Believe me, most post their ditties expecting the same acknowledgement of greatness bestowed on them by their family rather than serious criticism. Karaoke syndrome, my mother likes it.......it must be good.

Ray

btw I only ever entered one karaoke competition in my entire life.........................and I won. Elvis lives :)

Ray

alrighty then mr. goat, I get that, and won't even attempt to drag you in to stepping

on any toes. Your aspect of musical skill is an important function in 'polishing'

and refining- and hey , someone needs to do that. It's a totally different perspective

but it could offer up some technical and practical insights others don't have, thus

by suggestion and demonstration, their work is improved. They are free to take it

or leave it, but I'd bet it will make them think about it.

In the context of a forum, it seems that if you are silent, you are dead.    RS
 
The Lonely Goat said:

Roger,

I was speaking for myself totally and selfishly when I gave my opinion on my interests in music, neither expecting nor canvassing for agreement with any other member. A silent majority is the way of the world, few are willing to be involved in any kind of critique because they most probably feel unqualified. Now there are certain aspects in music of which I am totally comfortable when discussing but then........here.............I think, no, my size 10's probably won't be understood or appreciated.......shut up. Believe me, most post their ditties expecting the same acknowledgement of greatness bestowed on them by their family rather than serious criticism. Karaoke syndrome, my mother likes it.......it must be good.

Ray

btw I only ever entered one karaoke competition in my entire life.........................and I won. Elvis lives :)

Ray

Paul, your comment I find thoughtful, and thought to respond to the idea of "Nothing seems to be taking." I've had hard moments when composing too, as I suspect most every composer has (Beethoven's original manuscripts sometimes contain more deletions than acceptions, for example). I recall a piece I was working on years ago where I went through 16 or 17 variations in the middle of the piece before I was able to complete it, a process that took several years. Before I finally found a way to complete the piece, each of the variants just seemed to lead to a dead end. If one is not following the traditional formats such as fugue or sonata, which is always the case with me, then the piece must develop through its own logic, a process unique to each piece and which requires me to discover what that logic is as I go along. One thing that I can say I have never done, and this is primarily the reason I am responding to you, is to compare myself to the "great works of the past" as you put it. I never do this because I think it hampers one's ability to compose. I just try to do the best I can, create music which I hope others will get some enjoyment out of, and learn from each piece so that the next one will be better. I post a lot of my works on other sites besides this one, and usually get a favorable reaction, especially from non-composers, who are actually the audience I want most to appreciate what I do. The internet is an amazing thing for composers and this site especially - before the internet what chance would someone like you or me have to present their compositions before others? Essentially zero. This may not help you get unstuck, but realize you live in a blessed time, when with an amazing computer (more powerful than the biggest mainframe computer of 20 years ago), you and I are able to post our best efforts at composition on the world stage.

Paul Smith said:

Thanks. As a matter of fact, I was just dealing with these very issues a few minutes ago in a new piece I'm noodling around with. Nothing seems to be taking, and it has been a hard morning, creation-wise. Just to be blunt about it, it's all sounding pretty much like shit... The issues come into play only in the sense that I always want to know I've given it my very best, or to at least genuinely feel that I have. I always try my utmost to keep my ego out of the way of my music, so to speak, but, if I'm honest, I'll admit that, in the back of my mind, there is usually some sense of attempting to measure up to some degree to all those great works of the past. But the fact is, I am certainly NOT a genius at this business of music, but luckily for me it's something that's rather easy for me to accept, too.... thank God.

By the way, I really enjoyed your competition piece, and voted it for most original-sounding, as well as either 2nd or 3rd, I've forgotten which. But I'm afraid I had to go with 'First Snow' for 1st place, although it wasn't an easy decision.

Ondib Olmnilnlolm said:

Hello Paul Smith.  Here is a short message for you.  You recall that were discussing why composers often “second guess” themselves so often, while in the midst of composing. ---  You began a post saying, “This is certainly a hard one, Ondib, but I'll give it my best shot...” Your reply was admirable.  Somehow, my response to you did not take when I pasted it in, so you only saw the “Paul Smith said:” part of the conversation repeated. The words I wrote were omitted. My reply was a brief one, in which I said yours was an excellent answer, and that the example of the “Beethoven-Brahms” relationship was an extremely good illustration of your point.  Thanks for your well thought out reply.  I’m sure many other ideas will come up in the future, in connection with this issue of the phenomenology of composing, the actual feelings, intuitions, physical sensations and thoughts that occur to one while composing. 

Bravo Nicholas.  Excellent use of the orchestra for this piece.

Hello, Paul Smith, 

I wanted simply to express my gratitude for your generous comments regarding my contribution to the Winter Contribution, made a while back.

I meant to reply earlier, but got distracted by some other concerns.

Thank you for taking the time to post your kind remarks.

No problem with the delay whatsoever, Ondib. And, really, I was quite taken with your piece. It had quite a lot of daring in it, I thought, and it was also very easy to visualize the subject matter. Put you right out there in the middle of the life and death battle waging in the woods, so to speak.

Ondib Olmnilnlolm said:

Hello, Paul Smith, 

I wanted simply to express my gratitude for your generous comments regarding my contribution to the Winter Contribution, made a while back.

I meant to reply earlier, but got distracted by some other concerns.

Thank you for taking the time to post your kind remarks.

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