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Please- No Story Behind the Music!!

There should not be any story behind the music. A 'story' can change our perception of the music. The music should exist on its own. I don't want to hear that the composition was the result of the author's desperate desire to get a divorce or as a warm tribute to his or her pet kitten, or... A composition should touch on universal emotional reactions, not programs. The only exception might be 'multi-media' compositions, such as music/ballet, or music that is joined to lyrics.

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Comment by Eliana Gilad - Voices of Eden on June 11, 2011 at 3:42am
Sounds great Doug. Thanks for the lively conversation.
Comment by Doug Lauber on June 10, 2011 at 5:33pm
I admit- I made the statement, the directive, 'No Story Behind the Music', just as 'food for thought'. A musician friend of mine always complained about 'program music', as though it was a less valuable art form. It's just different- apples and oranges. I'd like to create videos that include my original music, and if I do that I'll probably insist that the music and imagery be considered as one piece, not to be separated.
Comment by Eliana Gilad - Voices of Eden on June 10, 2011 at 3:51pm
I like to give the listener the freedom to experience what they experience, without spoon feeding their brain with something that I thought about while composing. As my work is largely in a live mode, I like to allow the listeners to choose a focus for the music. Then I use that focus for the composition. It becomes OUR music.
Comment by Doug Lauber on May 29, 2011 at 12:39pm
I'm not the Thought Police. Composers can create music any way they want. It's OK. I just think music that depends on a story, is weaker than music that can stand on its own. When a composer INFORMS me about the music, I find that the narrative directs me and I don't like being directed by a story. I love it when the music does everything. Its abstract qualities make me feel a certain way and there's a journey of moods and feelings along a timeline. I embrace the abstraction. Emotions that are induced via music, don't need some narrative. They are fine as a separate emotional experience that I only associate with the recording/composition.
Comment by Merri Christi Pemberton on May 29, 2011 at 12:07pm
A song about your pet cat is just fine...if the cat is an important part of your life, then so be it. Why shouldn't get frustrated over how a musician decides to communicate his or her own music. It is up to the musician about how he or she wants to interact with his/her own audience. Let's look at it this way...that musician's audience is not "our" audience. That musician's audience may want to hear the story about the pet cat. They may relate to that story, even though we don't relate to it. A story about the musician's pet cat will seem "silly" to us, but it may relate to his/her audience who maybe be cat lovers and want to hear a sweet song about the cat. My music is for my audience, and my audience may have people with similar experiences or can relate to what I am saying. Those who can't related can still enjoy the song, still imagine it in a different way regardless of my communication of it...but they may not always totally relate to it.
Comment by Merri Christi Pemberton on May 29, 2011 at 11:59am
I disagree. Music is an extension of the individual musician; it is part of that musician's being. When we create music, we are creating from our hearts and from our own Spirit; therefore, there may be a story behind it. Even if the story is fiction, there will be a story. When I hear music, I am still free to imagine it in a different way than what the musician's story says that it is about. I believe that when we deny a person the ability and right to tell his or her own story behind their own creation, then we deny that musician and we belittle that musician's creativity. We communicate that we don't respect that musician's purpose and motive for creating this piece...we disrespect that person as a musician.
Comment by Andrew Wonders on May 26, 2011 at 7:53pm
I like *certain* commentary on a piece... like when I read that Eric Whitacre feels that the four measures illustrating the "never kissing" line of text for "A Boy and a Girl" "may be the truest notes" he's ever written... but don't give me the screenplay in your head, or a play-by-play of your compositional vision...
Comment by Doug Lauber on May 25, 2011 at 12:28pm
I think a series of moods, emotions, and abstract structure is enough. References to 'stories' only water down the power of the music. That's my opinion. If the music cannot stand on its own, it's weak.
Comment by Chris Rodier on May 25, 2011 at 5:54am
Much like the back of a book, a story should be given to any piece. However, the blurb you give should never give any major details away.  In such a way, we can allow the listeners to form their own smaller details while giving them the main picture.
Comment by Doug Lauber on May 13, 2011 at 7:58pm
Beth, I know what you mean about creating a title for a composition. I like titles that are vague, like Composition #23, or abstract like 'Green and Yellow'. The title should just be a vague label for the music, so when someone says, I listened to Blue Fog, they just are referring to the sounds...

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