Hello to all!  I just joined the forum yesterday and wanted to introduce myself.  My name is Greg, I'm 47, and I've been composing since college.  Although I majored/minored in history and philosophy, I did take a number of advanced music courses in college with a beloved professor who took an interest in my passion for classical music.  Other than that, I'm largely self-taught.  I've spent a lot of time studying scores and listening to the masterworks.  I never mastered an instrument, though I can play a little piano. My main interest has always been composition.

Because life took me in certain directions, I never did anything formally with my musical interests, and I must admit I do have some regrets about that.  But I have to say I've been lucky to have a job doing meaningful work in the community that has also allowed me a lot of time and flexibility over the years to compose.  

I've written 3 symphonies, 2 piano concertos, a harpsichord concerto, variations and fugue for orchestra, and a lot of other miscellaneous single-movement pieces.  I love composing for the orchestra!  I know, I know -- that lowers the chance of my stuff ever getting performed.  But I can't help it, I just love it.  I've been a little slow to get these into score format, but do have my 2 piano concertos and 3rd symphony scored and audio files (Finale electronic "performances") of them that I can share.  It's hard to describe my style; I do try to write accessible music -- tonal, with transparent structures.  I'm not interested in originality for originality's sake, though I do strive not to "sound like" other composers.  The word of the day when I was in college in the 90s was "derivative" -- the last thing you wanted to be was derivative.  And they really drilled that into my head because it's always at the forefront of my thoughts when I'm composing.  Sometimes I fear I've lifted some melody from another composer subconsciously.  But I suppose almost all composers (and artists of any kind) struggle with that.  At the end of the day, I do this mainly for the joy of it.  I experience a unique "high" when I compose -- it's unlike any other fulfillment I've ever felt.  I don't know if my music is any good, or if it has any value beyond the pleasure I get out of writing it, but I keep doing it because I feel that I have no other choice.  It's an insatiable hunger.  I'm sure many of you have similar feelings.    

I mainly wanted to join the forum so that I could meet others who have a passion for musical composition.  Unfortunately, my small circle of friends in the real world does not include anyone who's involved with music to any great extent.   I've been content all these years working in isolation, but now I'm really wanting to make connections.  I think artists need to connect with their creative peers so they can share ideas, give feedback, and be supportive of one another.  I believe it inspires and nourishes the soul to do so.  I'm happy to do my part.

Anyhow, enough of my rambling.  I'm glad to be here and look forward to some interaction.



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      • "The point I was trying to get across was when I was in college taking music courses, they tried very hard to convince me that "being derivative" of another composer's work was the worst sin imaginable.  What that usually meant was writing ANY KIND of tonal music.  Which I thought then, and still think, is absolutely ridiculous."

        What some of these teachers (who are too often derivative of their teachers) seem to overlook is that like language, sound organisation has to evolve. In a way it's an extension of verbal language anyway.  It's basic semiotics and perhaps part of another discussion. One doesn't suddenly come up with a new language with its syntax rules and so on and expect others to "understand" or accept it without the means to decode or learn it and decide if it achieves any aims. Most listeners have expectations and the 'system' evolved over centuries allows capacity to introduce some new elements. Aside from musical sound being tied up with neurophysiology, information theory and, like I say, semiotics.

        But I see university music composition education as pragmatic. You can't teach people to be creative. You can show them how to use the tools (always good for discipline); you can invent new tools but to give the illusion of making the expense of a composition degree worthwhile, vast effort is put into generating buzzwords, jargon and destroying the evolutionary line that' brought music to where it is (for most people). It's become a minor industry, a bureaucracy. 

        I'd better sit out now, denigrating university musical education as I do. There are people here who've spent good money on it!

        • Dane,

          I hear you--universities and music conservatories are not about teaching the creative side of music. In fact, my first studio composition teacher explicitly told us that he 'couldn't teach us to be creative.' He told us that the only thing he would require of us is that if we wrote pitches above or below the staff that we use ledger lines. Anything we wanted to write and work on with in private lessons was fine no m atter how atonal or tonal it was. Private lessons were in large part about raising questions in the details of our pieces and refering us to scores of the "canon" that he thought would be helpful. My first piece with him was definitly 'derivative' of Bartok but that was okay because it had something of my own bent in the mix too--(and I learned some things in the process). But this was the 1970s and I know things have changed in academia. 

          I think you are right on point about higher educsation being an industry--and I would say a "major one." High school to college and on to grad school has become more of a factory assembly line business for Higher Ed. It now seems to be all aout the money.    




  • Though it's about poetry rather than music, I think the view of T. S. Eliot is relevant here:  in his critical essays he argues that successful poetry must be engaged in a dialog with its tradition -- a dialog, not an imitation.  The dialog shouldn't be mistaken for imitation. In my own view, the main difference is that imitation reproduces the original, but dialog actually changes the original.

    • This is right on point Jon! If we don't have a dialog with tradition, we are just stumbling along. Thanks for refering to Eliot here.

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