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Composing music to life

My composition teacher has been kind, gently prodding me along all these weeks while I learned to crawl. Just when I'm learning to walk, showing off my new creations, he uses the words "with all due respect."

By now, I know that he's about to say something profound. Better yet, I know that I must be on guard, for my ego is about to be torn to pieces.

"You wanna know what's wrong with your music?" he stood up and paced about the room.

"Yes, please. How else can I improve?" I begged.

"Okay. With all due respect, I will tell you." In other words, "Are you quite sure you are ready for this? Brace yourself."

"Here's what's wrong with your music:

1- Same tempo. Everything is the same speed.

2- Same rhythm. Always 4/4. Eighth note runs. Why not try triplets, quintuplets? Vary the beat.

3- No dynamics. Always mezzo piano to mezzo forte.

4- No drama. No high point.

5- No break. No rests. No fermatas. It just goes on and on.

6- Too many notes."

As I frantically tried to scribble everything down, he moved towards me to elaborate on point number 6.

"Too many notes without pause. Too busy. It's like a preacher who can't stop talking. You can't understand what he's saying, but you just want him to shut up."

I stopped writing and sat there, stunned to silence.

"Yes. Silence. Have you ever listened to silence?" he asked.

"Why are you so afraid of dissonance? It's good you are doing some harmonic variations. But you can do so much more."

I hesitated and then ventured, "But my life is nothing like my music. I have a very interesting and exciting life. Full of drama and stories.Very dynamic."

"So," he challenged, "Why can't you write about your life?"

Indeed, why am I so risk-averse when it comes to composing and such a risk-taker when it comes to living? In composing, I am constantly looking for rules and trying not to break them. In life, I run away from rules and embrace the unknown.

Does a composer's music reflect his or her life? I don't think so. The music of Robert Avalon, for instance, at least those that I have heard, are dark --- not at all like the person. Robert Avalon was a very positive, optimistic, and open person -- full of life and encouragement, not at all dark and sombre.

10 May 2004 Monday

Related journal links:
Composing or improvising
Invitation to rejection
Rejected, dejected
Importance of feedback
analyticalQ free sheet music
Yvan and Mo walked down the aisle in South Africa to my piano solo "February Sun" and played the rest of my 80-minute piano solo CD for the wedding reception in February 2004.
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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.
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