Monday, November 28, 2005

Questioning the Composer

from a letter to mon ami...
Do you ever exorcise through composing? Can you get rid of old boyfriends, compose away their ghosts? Can composing make sense of the awful separating of stuff: was this your book, or is it mine? can I take the whisk? what about the moka pot? Is composing a way of "working out" your life? Or is it something more serious, a furrowed-brow deliberation on "widely relevant" issues? Is the front page of the Times your fodder? Or is composing purely fun, like taking a walk to the rose garden or eating a fine meal? I imagine many composers compose with intention, wanting to prophesy please. To please an audience, a critic, a mother, a that composing?

In the end, I do not think I care too much for intentional composers. My mantle only has room for those who compose because it spills out of these wildly nonsensical words spilling out of me to you. Are you that kind of composer? Are you?


For me, it runs the gamut (Sorry for the Guidonian pun). Sometimes I just write because it happens; sometimes I do it with malace aforethought with a goal in mind; and yes, sometimes it has helped me to work through personal loss. However, even with my more pedantic compositional "exercises", if the piece doesn't pass my "sniff test" for musicality, it goes into the hopper and is simply marked up as a learning experience. Hope this helps.

By Blogger Hucbald, at 11:42 AM  

Interesting questions. I'd like to read Alvin's answers.

Like alchemy, the practice is not really to turn base metals into gold, but to transform the alchemist.

Maybe composing is like alchemy. I wonder if Ludwig composed in order to become a better person, or just because his stomach hurt.

Anyway, happy birthday, Ludwig. You are missed here on Earth.

--richard friedman

By Blogger Heather, at 7:20 PM  

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