Replies

  • To make a living at it

  • My goals is to make a decent living off my music, though realistically the odds are stacked against me due to my style that isnt always the most popular. 

    My realistic goals is to compose while I teach composition at the university level and become a recognized force in the world of music. To become what I call, "studiable" meaning that not only is my music listened to an enjoyed but is studied along side other great contemporary composers. 

  • To make a living and more importantly to move people. :)

  • Saul, that was a very interesting observation from Felix Mendelssohn's family.  I would have to say they were very wise.  The business world of music is not all sweetness and light ...

    I made my living as a composer for quite a few years, and I would never want to take that path again.  It had its moments - it's always nice to have the tv folks come over for an interview or be on the radio or take your bows at a big concert or have a patron pay for you to go to England for a fortnight when your music is receiving its European debut.  It's nice to be able to put "classical composer" as your occupation - it has a certain ring to it.  But whew!  The emotional and artistic cost isn't worth it  ... to me, that is.  

    There were royalty disputes when everyone else (all men) had gotten huge royalties for a CD where our music appeared and I, the lone woman composer, was tossed a token bone.  I would have had to hire a big name lawyer to get "equal pay", which is the last way I wanted to spend any of my time.   There were differences in opinion about the word "beauty" from folks who were commissioning and paying for pieces.  When someone says "write whatever you feel", and they are paying, believe me they mean "write whatever I want"  - I rewrote one piece several times for a "Goldilocks" flutist - first it was too easy, then it was too hard, then it was too soft, then too loud.  Chuckle.  You really have to be more of a business person than an artist to "succeed" and you also have to be pretty mean and tough, which I'm not and don't want to be. 

    Oh let's not forget the commission to write a piece for a wedding for bagpipe, pipe organ and string quartet.  At the last second (the bride was at the back of the church) the musicians realized that the bagpipe and pipe organ were out of tune with each other.  And no they had not rehearsed - wedding musicians rarely rehearse.  So I get a call from the bridal party as they are going down the aisle "Can you be here in five minutes with a transposed score?"   That one was hilarious -- I couldn't be there in five minutes, I was hours away from the church and the bagpipe needed a Scottish Laird more than a new key!  Folks, beware when writing for bagpipe, pipe organ, and string quartet.  Just say no from the very start!!

    I'm just saying that it's not the romantic world you might think.  It's a hard, cold business world and 99% of the folks out there don't know the difference between sublime music and a jackhammer on the street.  It's not their fault - I myself can't tell the difference between a hamstring and a shoestring - different skills, y'know.   Once, when I was the minister of music at a large and prosperous but artistically clueless church, my flutist friend and I performed the Barber Canzone at a service - to me that music is heart-stoppingly beautiful.  At the same service, the minister asked me to improvise during a lull.  I did - some truly insipid, uninspired extremely forgettable chord progressions with melody.  After the service the congregation was ecstatic - all those folks came up and almost kissed my feet.  I thought they were loving the Barber, but no, it was the improv they loved.  Sigh. To each his own, but still ... it was the Barber Canzone!!!!!

    I also taught in universities and colleges and it was the same - somehow, as this forum also proves, when a bunch of adults get together, chaos ensues.  Some of you thrive on chaos and contention - I don't thrive on it.  So .... I created a world of teaching young prodigies.  Their music is as good as or better than some of the really good adult music going around and they haven't yet learned to be antagonistic nor are they ruled by ego. I can write whatever I want when I want   and include it on the concerts along with their music- it's always nice to appear on a concert with a modern day Mozart!   Every day with them is Christmas morning, the music is superb, the energy is a mix of exhilaration and deep contentment.  I get to keep learning and growing and can even just be quiet and listen a lot ....  ;-)

    So my goal as a composer is to be able to continue the life I've chosen until my last perfect perdendosi moment.   Some of you probably already have the lives that are exactly right for you - you might not want to give that up for the challenges of a "successful music career" .   I know everyone's different, so my story really applies to one person.   I hope each of you find your own perfect path..

  • My goal is to be able to write any kind of music that I like.
    I have dreams of completing a Piano Sonata, and a String Quartet, but at this point I am just not good enough, and do not have the time and energy to study enough for it.
    But I always try to have at least one up-coming performance of one of my works in my calendar. Sometimes I doubt myself - all the time, in fact - but I always tend to get performances, even though my work isn't avant garde in any way, tonal, romantic and generally in very small formats.
    So to be able to continue to study (my university seams to have had the worst courses of the unis mentioned by other members of the forum, I am actually a teacher in composition allthough my work hardly proves it) and become a more competent musician and also to continue to have works performed are my main goals. Making money is hardly an option in my case.

     

    ~David

  • a teacher in schooling that is. I have naturally never worked as such...
     
    David Unger said:

    My goal is to be able to write any kind of music that I like.
    I have dreams of completing a Piano Sonata, and a String Quartet, but at this point I am just not good enough, and do not have the time and energy to study enough for it.
    But I always try to have at least one up-coming performance of one of my works in my calendar. Sometimes I doubt myself - all the time, in fact - but I always tend to get performances, even though my work isn't avant garde in any way, tonal, romantic and generally in very small formats.
    So to be able to continue to study (my university seams to have had the worst courses of the unis mentioned by other members of the forum, I am actually a teacher in composition allthough my work hardly proves it) and become a more competent musician and also to continue to have works performed are my main goals. Making money is hardly an option in my case.

     

    ~David

    http://composersforum.ning.com/forum/comment/show?id=773368%3AComment%3A312134&xn_out=json&firstPag…
  • Thank you Ray for commenting on this topic concerning goals as a composer, your comments are always intriguing to read. Concerning music that I’ve posted here on this wonderful and enjoyable forum, I believe that I’ve only shared around four: “Sins of the Old Testament,” “The Garden of Love,” “Fanfare for Earth,” and under the thread “Your Shortest Piece Ever” in the recent Music Dissection section I posted “Rising.” Comparing music to other composers will and has always been an opinionated subject that each person has to decide for themselves, but I may be able to share some comments regarding the music I’ve shared with the community.

    “Sins of the Old Testament” was my very first post. This work uses modern set-theory techniques set in a tonal setting combined with unusual instrumentation and orchestration to appeal to a wide audience from music theorists, university ensembles, other composers, to untrained listeners who are there just to enjoy hearing the music. Details in the composition such as tempo, styles, and the addition of percussion in the finale were purposely decided on to refresh the ears making the audience not realize that they just listened to around 10 minutes of modern music. This work tends to be a favorite amongst future professionals performing their senior recitals in their respected music conservatories. To quote a composer on the forum, “One of the most skilled pieces of writing I’ve heard on here for a while.”

    The second work I posted was the SSAA, cello, and piano piece “The Garden of Love.” In less than 5 minutes the music journeys through the history of music with chant, Baroque counter-pointe, the Classical Period’s broken arpeggiated accompaniment, and romantic and modern chords with a Celtic folk-like melody. Spiritual people enjoy this work because they hear the music as haunting and in their words, “Contains a soul,” atheists enjoy the fact that William Blake’s words talk of the church’s oppression of one’s desires, and others find their own interpretation such as the loss of innocence. Learning from the works of Mozart, my works always have a form or structure so the listener subconsciously feels the piece as complete. Learning from Bach, I’ve learned that each part is very important and should have a melodic contour in itself. Cellists and pianists that have performed this work in concert appreciate the fact that they are not just simply accompaniment but another important voice to the sound. I cannot speak of the quality of the work myself, but it has been performed by groups such as members of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and has been featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”

    Both “Fanfare for Earth” and the short piece “Rising” are simply renderings using just a $150 library and notation software that cannot possibly show how the music actually sounds which now, hopefully, will help shed some light and revelation to your puzzlement. Because you do not possess an inner composer’s mind, meaning that you do not possess the skills or means to look at a score and know exactly how it sounds, when you compare me to the “many, many composers” what you are actually saying is that you cannot understand the presentation of my compositions in comparison to other composers who possess thousands of dollars’ worth of samples, DAWS, monitor speakers, audio interphases, and other recording equipment to render their music.

    This became quite apparent in our posts under the thread “Your Shortest Piece Ever” between your piece and mine. Audibly because of your advanced tools, wonderful sounding libraries, and your skills as a producer your short composition sounded simply beautiful, but compositionally we have to ask ourselves, “Does it work?” Because of the lack of direction in your melodic contour, the grey coloration of the consistent orchestration, the lack of a clear and distinctive conclusion, and as one other composer has already pointed out, the improper use of parallel 5ths, your piece still lacks that craftsmanship to be a true complete composition. There’s more to composing than just improvising and editing a sample in your DAW saying, “This sounds good.” A Walmart lamp might look good in a room, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for your room bringing it all together and making it truly shine.

    Using parallel 5ths in music is not incorrect as long as they are used in a proper manner. The avoidance of the 5ths most notably in the Renaissance was a direct reaction to the monophonic texture of Gregorian chant in the Middle Ages. Avoiding 5ths and 8vas in music helps each line or voice possess their own melodic contour within the composition. Whenever 5ths and octaves do occur the voices are no longer separated but work as one conjoined melody. Clearly your work was written for solo English Horn accompanied by strings, but when your solo voice and accompaniment move in parallel motion is contradicts your own intentions. My brass and percussion piece “Fanfare for Earth” deliberately uses parallel motion so the texture even when different voices are used still sound as one. The avoidance of 3rds and 6ths in the work also helps disguise the nationality sounding as if it’s a work for all nations and not just one.  

    “Fanfare for Earth” opens with the resounding call of the trumpet section in parallel motion, then answered by the low brass and percussion as they come crashing down into the foundations of sound. I sent the score to a university asking if they would be interested in performing the work in the spring, and in less than 30 minutes I received the email response saying yes. The professors knew that the music was both powerful and bold by simply reading the score, not by listening to samples being rendered by some notation software program. If you actually want your music performed you should never compose music by choosing which samples sound the best in your DAW, but what the instruments actually sound like in a live performance.

    I compose concert music that is to be performed live, and not based off what sampled libraries I have. To quote classical composer David Maslanka, “A composer should never put his music in a box but must rely on what he knows the music will sound like.” I know how my music will sound live. I don’t need a computer and a $1000+ worth of sampled libraries to tell me. The recording that I shared of the live performance of “The Garden of Love” was the very first time I even heard the work. Once again because of works such as Bach’s, I did not need to hear the chords to know exactly how they would sound. The music that I have shared on this forum has either been live performances or rendered with notation software. You have not heard polished studio recordings or a computer’s interpretation using advanced sample libraries that you are used to hearing and judging the quality of one’s work. The evidence is quite clear in which your only comment after hearing the fanfare on another thread is in regards to the usage of reverb and not the composition itself.

    In regards of my career, I am not the one who keeps bringing the subject up. The first one was a thread on which it asks if anyone is a professional composer. Then because of other composers’ inquisitions concerning publishing and live performances, I decided to write how college prepared me for my career so I would not have to keep answering individually. And concerning this thread about composers’ ultimate goals, I am looking for more responses such as, “I want to compose a string quartet,” “An opera based on my life,” or “I have this new idea that has been bottling up within me for years and I cannot wait to share it with the world.” It is great that people want to make composing as a career, but I want to hear more about what you want to compose.    

     ~Rodney



    Raymond Kemp said:

    Rodney,

    My goal right at this moment is understanding how you could possibly be a full-time professional composer.

    Sorry, but I'm just not convinced by the quality of music you present here. It's not bad but IMO just not good enough when I compare it to many many composers work I find so much better yet they struggle even with all the contacts in the business they have to live comfortably and in fact feel comfortable. I'm truly puzzled and intrigued by your continual references to your success.

    Kind Regards

    Ray

    BTW I've no axe to grind or chip on shoulder here because my goal is simply to have someone listen more than once to any ditty I come up with.

    Your Goal as a Composer
    What is your ultimate goal as a composer? ~Rodney
  • Having music "good enough" isn't good enough to be a successful professional full-time composer. One must possess the skills to recognize and supply the needs of those willing to pay for music, plus all the entrepreneurial skills of business and marketing. Rodney's music and previous posts coincide with what I have learned from professional composers I have the pleasure of knowing personally.

  • Regarding Rodney's last point - "I want to hear more about what you want to compose." - I am currently working on a piece called "East Meets West," a work for solo piano which combines and alternates between oriental themes (pentatonic ideas, mostly), western themes (mostly inspired by progressive and classic rock), and my own take on things (lots of time changes, sudden tempo changes, and in this piece, an odd take (for me anyway) on melodic development). The piece is actually already completely composed, but as I have often found, producing an ok sound out of my notation program takes a tremendous effort and reworking of the score to get to a listenable mp3. I will be posting here when done.


  • I want to finish editing the work I posted in the Music Dissection forum, utilizing some of the suggestions made there.


    Rodney Carlyle Money said:

    I am looking for more responses such as, “I want to compose a string quartet,” “An opera based on my life,” or “I have this new idea that has been bottling up within me for years and I cannot wait to share it with the world.” It is great that people want to make composing as a career, but I want to hear more about what you want to compose.    

     ~Rodney

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