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Thread: What style do you compose in?

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    Lightbulb What style do you compose in?

    hello,
    Style of composition is something that has been on my mind recently. My own style varies a lot, starting out when I first tried my hand at composing three years ago tonal, then heading towards modal, now tonal/polytonal mix. I'm writing a quartet at the moment where three movements are polytonal, one is roughly modal and one varies between pentatonicism and pantonality. I'm not sure where I'll go next, because my opinions change faster than I can write music. I must say that a few months ago I started listening extensively to pantonal period music by the second viennese school and it's really influenced me a lot. I'm not attracted by serialism at the moment however.
    So, how are the other composers here composing?

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    Currently I am working on finishing an a capella SSSAAATTTBBB mass setting. I mostly follow tonal ideas but when I feel I need to adjust I let it. To be a successful composer, just like any other art, i believe, you need to follow exlusively where your heart leads you. I just finished a song cycle based on the struggles of an immigrant when they first come to America and experience the difference in culture. To add to the questions already presented in the former post, I would also like to to add my own. Any choral/solo voice composers this is for you. I have been struggling to find a good outlet of poems to set to score. I have been trying to use amatuer poems (less copyright stress and its nice to have someone email you asking you to use your poem), but that is becoming more stressful in that the poems dont have the depth I'm looking for now. If anyone has any ideas...

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    Any choral/solo voice composers this is for you. I have been struggling to find a good outlet of poems to set to score. I have been trying to use amatuer poems (less copyright stress and its nice to have someone email you asking you to use your poem), but that is becoming more stressful in that the poems dont have the depth I'm looking for now. If anyone has any ideas...
    Yes, it seems powerfull emotions are out of fashion today- far too many poems out there about doing the dishes or watering the plants!
    If I were you, I go looking for poetry forums, groups ect. online. These tend to contain tons of new poems flooding in everyday. Not all the poems will be good, but you never know, you just may spot the Goethe that makes you the next Schubert

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    Not all the poems will be good, but you never know, you just may spot the Goethe that makes you the next Schubert
    New poetry afterall is the future. I'm part of one group (fictionpress.com), very nice poetry, but I think I'll branch out. (Your comment is hilarious! ) Do you know of any specific forums that come to mind?

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    Smile

    I must admit I haven't yet looked through poetry forums online a lot, but I found that yahoo has quite a few groups devoted to poetry. I'll look around tommorow and see what I can find- after all, though art song isn't an interest for me at the moment, it's always good to have resources at hand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vivaciouswagnerian
    i believe, you need to follow exlusively where your heart leads you.
    Well said! And my heard leaded me tonal compositions, because my feeling of so many "modern" music is the development to noise not to music, the development of brain as receiver not heart, I mean, you need instructions to a work to understand it, if I listen to some music it really really hurts me worst though I try to understand it. Experiments which can be interesting, yes, but heart enriching music I must say no. And there I follow my heart. Tonal music is not at a point of ending for me, it is a convinction.

    Greetings,
    Daniel

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    From what period would you class music as noise? Starting from Wagner-Debussy explorations of the 19th century, from the Stravinsky-Schoenberg leap into modernism or from mid the twentieth century Avante Garde on?

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    Quote Originally Posted by godzillaviolist
    From what period would you class music as noise? Starting from Wagner-Debussy explorations of the 19th century, from the Stravinsky-Schoenberg leap into modernism or from mid the twentieth century Avante Garde on?
    I truly think that depends on one's taste (if I'm looking at your question right). I am currently reading a very interesting book called "Einstein's Violin: A Conductors Notes on Music, Physics, and Social Change" where he has begun to analyse what makes music MUSIC. Anways, he says that art in general but music specifically is a representation of what culture is experiencing (even to the point of semi-accepting rap, although I dont know if I'd go that far). So I mean, bororqeians (sp?) had little stress that our modern world contains and therefore their music expresses simplicity. Wagner *swoon* took his feelings (i.e. expressing your feelings and the realistic view on society rather than sticking with "traditions") and presented them unrestrained. Jumping ahead to Stravinsky. He said himself that he feels music can not present a feeling, and if it does its only the illusion of one. But anyone who has heard his Rite of Spring can not deny there are feelings there. WOW I went on a rant, sorry. So case-in-point, personally, I dont think any music henceforth is just noise. A composer has expressed himself or his beliefs using sound, and isnt that the whole point of music?

    Oh my God, I just saw your quote Daniel in Einsteins Violin, I had missed it. Now I feel stupid for ranting about a book ya'll have probably already read
    Last edited by vivaciouswagnerian; Jul-26-2005 at 07:24.

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    Quote Originally Posted by godzillaviolist
    From what period would you class music as noise? Starting from Wagner-Debussy explorations of the 19th century, from the Stravinsky-Schoenberg leap into modernism or from mid the twentieth century Avante Garde on?
    Difficult to answer. Actually I must agree with vivaciouswagnerian that probably many of today's composers express their feelings, but the effect it has on me is noise. A composer can also express noise! Does expressing feelings mean expressing music? You can express also "sounds". Maybe this is a better expression. So this is going to be the general question "What is music?".

    But I think everyone agrees that serious music of our days (besides of any style) is mostly having dissonances, no consonances (if we talk about avant garde...).

    For me it is against my convinction to let dissonances be dissonances...never or almost never solving them.
    If you are religious you can understand it maybe better what I mean. It is a question of beauty and artificial beauty. To form up beauty (which is going to be solving dissonances to consonances) is for me natural. And that's why lots of modern's music is against my own ideas.

    Quote Originally Posted by vivaciouswagner
    I just saw your quote Daniel in Einsteins Violin, I had missed it. Now I feel stupid for ranting about a book ya'll have probably already read
    I must say: I haven't read it. *blushing*

    I finished the Wagner biography, and the effect was: after I haven't found any good "key" to enter Wagner's music-world, I am now curious what I will explore! I will keep you up to date.

    All the best,
    Daniel

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    I'm so happy you are starting in Wagner, he is quite an experience. He inspired many (hint hint Mahler *swoon* hehe)

    It is a question of beauty and artificial beauty. To form up beauty (which is going to be solving dissonances to consonances) is for me natural. And that's why lots of modern's music is against my own ideas.
    I dont know if I'd call unresolved dissonance "artificial beauty". I agree completely with the classical idea is that all dissonance resolves, tension release, ect. I dont know if your familiar with a composer by the name of Eric Whitacre (www.ericwhitacre.com). He finds that some dissonances are just too beautiful to resolve and I agree. I do, however, have a limit :-P, but dissonance, i think, just characterizes the frustration we as a society are going through.
    "Don't bother to look; I've composed all this already"
    -Gustav Mahler to Bruno Walter, who had stopped to admire mountain scenery in rural Austria

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    Daniel:
    Difficult to answer. Actually I must agree with vivaciouswagnerian that probably many of today's composers express their feelings, but the effect it has on me is noise. A composer can also express noise! Does expressing feelings mean expressing music? You can express also "sounds". Maybe this is a better expression. So this is going to be the general question "What is music?".
    I know it sounds odd, but I really believe one has to learn how to hear dissonant music. I used to hate dissonant music with a passion, and I didn't understand why twentieth century composers used it so frequently. In fact I'd say I was probably more musically conservative than you, as I found most Romantic music written after about 1860 too dissonant for my tastes, including most Brahms. Dissonance gave me a strong feeling of physical illness, of nausea.
    But about a year and a half ago I started listening to more dissonant music, something which was triggered by listening to Strauss' Burleske. You see when I first listened to it, I found almost painfully dissonant, but after several listenings the dissonance turned from unpleasant to beautifull and colourfull. My thought was "If this happened in this peice, what about others?" And gradually through late romanticism into modernism and beyond, I started to really enjoy dissonant and atonal music. You might think this means I lost my sensitivity to music, but that is not the case. I appreciate music of the past far more now than I ever could have before. For example, just today I was playing Hadyn duet with my teacher and I suddenly realised just how great a composer he was.

    Daniel:
    But I think everyone agrees that serious music of our days (besides of any style) is mostly having dissonances, no consonances (if we talk about avant garde...).
    I can't think of any composer who never uses consonances. There may be one, but I have never heard them before.

    Daniel:
    For me it is against my convinction to let dissonances be dissonances...never or almost never solving them.
    If you are religious you can understand it maybe better what I mean. It is a question of beauty and artificial beauty. To form up beauty (which is going to be solving dissonances to consonances) is for me natural. And that's why lots of modern's music is against my own ideas.
    I find that dissonance is a natural form of beauty, whether it's resolved or not. Also, dissonance is phenomena of perspective. Minor chords, for instance, used to be consdered dissonances.
    Godzilla

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    I couldn't have said it better. The past rocks and the future has potential hehe.
    "Don't bother to look; I've composed all this already"
    -Gustav Mahler to Bruno Walter, who had stopped to admire mountain scenery in rural Austria

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    Quote Originally Posted by vivaciouswagnerian
    but dissonance, i think, just characterizes the frustration we as a society are going through.
    Maybe, but I think our society is not only frustration today. And for myself I am an optimistic thinking person and want to show this in my compositions. If you just stay in dissonances it is a status not a progress, which I want to reach in my works.

    Quote Originally Posted by godzillaviolist
    I know it sounds odd, but I really believe one has to learn how to hear dissonant music. I used to hate dissonant music with a passion, and I didn't understand why twentieth century composers used it so frequently. In fact I'd say I was probably more musically conservative than you, as I found most Romantic music written after about 1860 too dissonant for my tastes, including most Brahms. Dissonance gave me a strong feeling of physical illness, of nausea.
    I think we humans are born we a natural feeling for harmony - disharmony. You have to find this feeling! And I don't agree if you would say "the classical harmony-feeling is trained on". It is natural, and we have to live natural (yes sounds very stoic).
    For me Brahms is not dissonante at all. I am not against dissonances, to clear that up. The way how to handle dissonances, that is important!
    Quote Originally Posted by godzillaviolist
    I can't think of any composer who never uses consonances. There may be one, but I have never heard them before.

    I said "mostly" .
    Quote Originally Posted by godzillaviolist
    I find that dissonance is a natural form of beauty, whether it's resolved or not. Also, dissonance is phenomena of perspective. Minor chords, for instance, used to be consdered dissonances.
    Godzilla
    Logical dissonances yes. But would you agree that most dissonances are not solved? If not give me some examples, so I could have an "ear" on. Do we have to live in such a pessimistic thinking generation? It is up to us to change that. Also with music.

    So far,
    Daniel

    P.S. @vivaciouswagneriana and all: What do you think about Siegfried Wagner's music? I borrowed 2 CDs yesterday and I am curious how his music will sound. Wagnerian?
    Last edited by Daniel; Jul-27-2005 at 10:40.

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    Daniel: I think we humans are born we a natural feeling for harmony - disharmony. You have to find this feeling!
    I already have that feeling. It is a feeling, but a feeling that has now been informed by experience.

    Daniel: And I don't agree if you would say "the classical harmony-feeling is trained on". It is natural, and we have to live natural (yes sounds very stoic).
    But you are not arguing for what is natural but what is traditional. Our lives are not "natural" in the sense that we live in a world we have created. If we used nature's rules for music, we would only have nature's music; raindrops, wind in the trees, thunder ect.
    Now, can you honestly imagine something so bizzare and unnatural as a piano existing in nature?
    Also the sense of classical harmony is not inborn; perhaps you feel that way because you grew up surrounded by it and thus don't have a conscious memory of imbibing it. Classical harmony only became stable around 1700 and stopped becoming so around 1900; two hundred years in the thousands of years of human history. Hardly enough time for our ears to have evolved to suit it. And that's only in the west; Indian music is very different from Western music both in structure and harmony. Nearly all the folk musics of the world have unresolved dissonances that seem perfectly satisfactory to their ears. And that folk music often predates all the masters of classical harmony.

    Daniel: The way how to handle dissonances, that is important!
    But modern composers are adepts at handling dissonance, and you just have to listen to their works to know that.

    Daniel:
    Logical dissonances yes. But would you agree that most dissonances are not solved?
    Not solved in the traditional way, but you were reffering to them never having any consonances at all.

    Daniel:
    If not give me some examples, so I could have an "ear" on.
    Could you tell me some of the modern works you've listened to? If I knew that, I think I could better understand where you are coming from ( for example; Penderecki's threnody is a world apart from Stravinsky's Sacre ).

    Daniel:
    Do we have to live in such a pessimistic thinking generation?
    I can't really say that I'm from a pessimistic generation. Most people I know are optimists. But I'd hardly blame dead modernist composers for unhappy people.

    Daniel:
    It is up to us to change that. Also with music.
    I hate to be harsh, but writing music in tonal idiom is unlikely to change people's moods. Unless of course what's getting them down is someone playing Boulez twenty-four hours a day.
    It may come as a suprise to you, but dissonant music doesn't make me grim, it can even make me happy I often listening to Scriabin to cheer myself up, and Prokofiev can always brighten my day and relax me.

    Ears intact and functional,

    godzilla

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    Ok ,

    First of all: a nice, controverse and constructive topic!
    Quote Originally Posted by godzillaviolist
    But you are not arguing for what is natural but what is traditional. Our lives are not "natural" in the sense that we live in a world we have created. If we used nature's rules for music, we would only have nature's music; raindrops, wind in the trees, thunder ect.
    Now, can you honestly imagine something so bizzare and unnatural as a piano existing in nature?
    I am not! I am writing abut natural feelings. What you describe are natural sounds and of course kind of music. But this is physical nature. Natural is what way the natural rules go. Difficult to describe (especially because here I feel my English vocabulary limitated). You can describe emotions, feelings, behaviors in music. Any motion is sound or music. And you are like one filtering out of this "flow" of life. You concentrate it on a paper and - express your idea! But you didn't "create" it, it is what you made of existing material, like a focus. What is the intension do you have? This are personal questions, and any composer finds his own answer. I respect them all.
    Quote Originally Posted by godzillaviolist
    Also the sense of classical harmony is not inborn; perhaps you feel that way because you grew up surrounded by it and thus don't have a conscious memory of imbibing it. Classical harmony only became stable around 1700 and stopped becoming so around 1900; two hundred years in the thousands of years of human history.
    I disagree. It is inborn, but sometimes hard to find. Maybe if you grow up with only dissonant music for example, I am completly sure you'll find it "normal", but I am also completly sure, that you destroy the human soul and sensitivity.
    Disharmony remains disharmony, harmony remains harmony. Consonance remains consonance, dissonance remains dissonance. This are facts, you cannot change it. And for me life is they way to reach harmony. So it is definately logical to go for harmony. That it can be a way with dissonances also, which are cleared up, is included.
    And another thing, I can understand the way how music went, but do I have to follow the time, if it is absolutlely against my convinction? No!

    Quote Originally Posted by godzillaviolist
    Not solved in the traditional way, but you were reffering to them never having any consonances at all.
    I must repeat: I said "mostly" not "only".


    Quote Originally Posted by godzillaviolist
    Could you tell me some of the modern works you've listened to? If I knew that, I think I could better understand where you are coming from ( for example; Penderecki's threnody is a world apart from Stravinsky's Sacre ).
    Some works which I have been listened to or in exerpts:
    Ligeti: work with sounds and voices (Don't remember the title)
    Rautavaara: Etude (this is very interesting)
    Stockhausen: Song of the youths
    Some works by German Professors (mostly atonal)
    Schönberg
    Rihm: a piano piece; or so
    Berg or Webern
    Höller: organ piece (if I remember the name right)
    ...

    Yes many of "older" avant garde, but the problem I do have in many works is: It hurts me so much, that I must turn off the sound.

    Another question I want to ask you all: Is any music worth to listen to?

    Quote Originally Posted by godzillaviolist
    But I'd hardly blame dead modernist composers for unhappy people.
    I didn't mean that. For many composers music can be kind of a therapy in writing, if you understand what I mean.


    Quote Originally Posted by godzillaviolist
    I hate to be harsh, but writing music in tonal idiom is unlikely to change people's moods. Unless of course what's getting them down is someone playing Boulez twenty-four hours a day.
    It may come as a suprise to you, but dissonant music doesn't make me grim, it can even make me happy I often listening to Scriabin to cheer myself up, and Prokofiev can always brighten my day and relax me.
    It comes up that things are a question of taste (which sounds very general, but one cannot change it). You can change moods with tonal music, definately! (yes difficult to argue here, because one says yes, the other one no)

    For my inner belief many music of our days (I say many, I don't generalize it) is writing more for the brain as for the heart of listeners.

    From a sunny Germany
    Daniel

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