View Poll Results: What Drives Creativity In Compositions?

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  • Mostly religion

    2 6.67%
  • Mostly to evolve music

    3 10.00%
  • Mostly to impress large audiences

    3 10.00%
  • Mostly financial

    3 10.00%
  • Mostly academic

    2 6.67%
  • Mostly by the composer's ego

    13 43.33%
  • Mostly for his legacy after he dies

    3 10.00%
  • I don't know

    4 13.33%
  • I hate ArtMusic's polls

    10 33.33%
  • Who cares, just as long as I enjoy or hate the music

    3 10.00%
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Thread: What Drives Creativity In Compositions?

  1. #1
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    Default What Drives Creativity In Compositions?

    Reading much on the great composers written by scholars, the personal letters of composers and on journals, it is clear that creativity is driven differently from composer to composer. Best with some examples below, and before one starts to ask: "how do you define creativity", suffice to say that it exists and it is the "engine room" that drive great composers.

    With Bach, his religion certainly drove his creativity. He believed music is there to glorify God in every note.

    With Verdi, he was driven by drama and the human emotions in the libretto that needed to be expressed though music, to balance the operatic "agendas" of great opera houses, patrons and artistic success.

    With Schoenberg, he wanted to abandon tonality which he saw as being totally exhausted by the early 20th century, and so he drilled into atonality for the sake of it. Schoenberg didn't write atonal music to want to glorify God, so using this example, you can see that creativity differed between composers.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    I honestly think the only driver is the composer himself/herself. If they have the talent, tools and will, it gets done.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Your poll does not include my choice, "Personal growth for the composer, or to challenge herself"

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    You say that Bach was driven by god or suchlike but last time I spoke to him he told me that that in fact driven by lust for money and power and fame.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Apr-15-2021 at 22:26.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    I honestly think the only driver is the composer himself/herself. If they have the talent, tools and will, it gets done.
    Sure, let's assume all the great composers have talent. What then drove them?

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    mostly the subject matter to be portrayed. Richard Strauss, for example, as he takes on the book 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra' goes with a presentation of this literary piece to its future readers; the overture represents not what is in the book but the book itself, this is a world premiere.

    the music contains two themes. 1st represents the author proffering his book to the universe of readers. 2nd represents the reluctant reader:

    1st theme melody calls - read. This. BOOK.

    2nd theme replies - NO way!

    the timpani - resentment.

    1st theme second try - read. This. BOOK.

    2nd theme (eyebrows raised) - you WHAT!

    the timpani - resentment.

    1st theme persists - read. This. BOOK.

    2nd theme now gets it - all RIGHT! (then continues) I WILL GIVE. THIS BOOK A TRY.

    1st theme (relaxed) - GOOD. Luck. on. that. etc.

    and then the reader opens the book to read.





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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    You say that Bach was driven by god or suchlike but last time I spoke to him he told me that that in fact driven by lust for money and power and fame.
    Most likely that's why he worked in a local church in Leipzig for twenty-seven years
    Last edited by ArtMusic; Apr-15-2021 at 23:03.

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    Senior Member Ethereality's Avatar
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    I'd argue creativity isn't to (and can not) impress large audiences, even though successful pieces have also been creative. The creative parts themselves are due to the ego, and the widely successful parts are from learning what past creatives did right.

    When I compose for example, I sometimes may want to impress the requirements of the job, if that's making money or satisfying the writer's vision that's relatable to many people viewing. But on the other hand, I always feel a necessity to be creative and clever ie. to have my own voice. This often unprofitable necessity arises from what it means to compose. Composing means = being the composer yourself. To express your identity, directly or indirectly.
    Last edited by Ethereality; Apr-16-2021 at 00:15.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
    I'd argue creativity isn't to impress large audiences, even though successful pieces have also been creative. This side-aspect of them is due to the ego.

    When I compose for example, I sometimes may want to impress the requirements of the job, if that's making money or satisfying the writer's vision that's relatable to many people viewing. But on the other hand, I always feel a necessity to be creative and clever ie. to have my own voice. This necessity comes from what it means to compose, ie. Composing means = being the composer yourself. To express your identity, directly or indirectly.
    So for you as a composer today it is about self-expression in a meaningful way to be an artist. Do you care about the audience? I don't mean this in a provocative way but is it entirely only about you? Ignore for a moment any monetary motives that might be part of the "job requirement" like you describe earlier.

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    Senior Member Ethereality's Avatar
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    Composition isn't a highly altruistic field, as say, the most it can ever do to help is when it brings forth naturally creative people for the good of scientific discovery, ie. If someone creates something that doesn't work for anybody, we have learned more. Thus someone who's naturally creative will get into the artistic fields, such as Classical music, and have a natural advantage to influence the thinking people, like Bach had. But we can't expect them to know they will be successful at it, or if what they're doing is influential.

    It may be hard for someone to limit creativity to 'what people will like,' because our knowledge of what people like comprises things already done, already outside the vision of creativity. So in my work, I try to strike a balance. To find what to be creative about.
    Last edited by Ethereality; Apr-15-2021 at 23:49.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
    Composition isn't a highly altruistic field, as say, the most it can ever do to help is when it brings forth naturally creative people for the good of scientific discovery, ie. If someone creates something that doesn't work for anybody, we have learned more. Thus someone who's naturally creative will get into the artistic fields, such as Classical music, and have a natural advantage to influence the thinking people, like Bach had. But we can't expect them to know they will be successful at it, or if what they're doing is influential.

    It may be hard for someone to limit creativity to 'what people will like,' because our knowledge of what people like comprises things already done, already outside the vision of creativity. So in my work, I try to strike a balance. To find what to be creative about.
    By trying to strike a balance, on what criteria or measure do you sense that balancing act is for your audience? Do you find it easier to strike that balance for yourself as an artist or for the audience? I hope you don't mind me asking but as you are a composer, it is worth discussing if it is alright with you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtMusic View Post
    Sure, let's assume all the great composers have talent. What then drove them?
    Emotions, the example of other composers, religion, literary works (i.e. Faust) money, audiences, a desire to challenge themselves...

    Religion didn't motivate Janacek, and money did not motivate Schubert, but JS Bach and Donizetti were motivated in large part by God and money respectively.

    However, I think the key ingredient is ego and recognition of one's own abilities. Without that, the great composers would have quailed.
    Last edited by ORigel; Apr-16-2021 at 01:46.

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    "Ego and recognition of one's own abilities" and the desire to expand them.

    But also money. How many great works of music were commissions, or done for a particular benefactor? I'd say a good percentage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtMusic View Post
    atonality for the sake of it
    "For the sake of it"...

    I cannot think of a more damaging way of viewing Schoenberg's legacy than to view his music as composed with the goal of satisfying some theoretical requirement, say atonality or serialism, for nothing more than the sake of it. As if he merely wrote his music as some abstract intellectual challenge to fulfill some structural-syntactical game for the sake of the theoretical requirement, and not to make art.

    ArtMusic, you do realize that there is artistic expression in Schoenberg's music, and creating that artistic expression was his primary objective, as it was or is for many other composers. Schoenberg admittedly may not be widely popular among the wide classical music public, and unfortunately he may never will be - probably global warming or nuclear proliferation will kill us all before Schoenberg becomes popular. Hell, even without those existential threats to humanity he still wouldn't likely make it to popularity.

    But for those listeners Schoenberg does reach, and we are (!) there, the value of Schoenberg is 100% in the music as sound, and the expressive and emotional journey it takes us along. He was able to provide a kind of highly lyrical, angular, stark, developmental, metrically complex, contrapuntal, emotional, overwhelmingly concentrated music. His music overflows with melodies, melodies unlike anyone wrote before. And THAT is what we value Schoenberg for.

    The theory is important in the music's construction, and it's perhaps interesting to those who would be interested in theory, but the theory is NOT the point of Schoenberg, and there wouldn't be any value in the theory without the actual musical experience.

    "For the sake of it"... as if Schoenberg's goal was to create atonality rather than to create music.
    Last edited by SeptimalTritone; Apr-16-2021 at 04:50.

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  20. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ORigel View Post
    Emotions, the example of other composers, religion, literary works (i.e. Faust) money, audiences, a desire to challenge themselves...

    Religion didn't motivate Janacek, and money did not motivate Schubert, but JS Bach and Donizetti were motivated in large part by God and money respectively.

    However, I think the key ingredient is ego and recognition of one's own abilities. Without that, the great composers would have quailed.
    By recognition of one's own abilities, do you mean self-recognition by the composer or by the audience? Many of the great composers had some sense of their own gifted abilities. It might be a greater challenge for them to receive that from the audience, however.

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