Influence and style (input required)

Following a conversation with my students this week about how they see themselves as composers, we discussed who their perfect combination of three composers would be. As this is very personal and subjective, I would be intrigued to know what you think so I could possibly add this to our discussion this week. You may have a more balanced view than myself or students.


Mine would be: John Cage for appreciation of sound for sounds sake, Beethoven for trailblazing development of what has come before and Tchaikovsky for being able to write the most astounding and memorable melodic and harmonic material.

Thank you in advance for any input.

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  • Hi Paul,


    Interesting to have such discussions with students, but as you say it can be very personal (and in my mind sometimes even dangerous). While I believe that one should stick to one's choices, we should be aware that if we start naming people, all our positions may be challengeable on many different grounds.

    So, finding myself in agreement somehow with you on Beethoven and his contribution to form, and being aware that it is still challengeable, I would disagree very much on Cage (on sound appreciation) and Tchaikovsky (on invention of melody), and a lot of little argumentative thoughts come up to support such a stance, but still quite personal.

    Instead of associating style with particular composers (or other artists in the case of other arts) I have found in the past quite helpful the approach of breaking down very complex styles in form and content to isolated stylistic parameters within them, however many or few, and analyse each one in turn during discussions with students.

    But in the end of course you know that the choice of introducing style to student lies with you, while the act of choosing any particular course of action lies with them.


    All the best

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