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Thread: Is there a problem or we have reach the maximum level

  1. #11

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    Good post, Cheez

    OK in reply to your points -

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheez View Post
    Thanks for your insight into contemporary classical music, kris. As with most who had gone through the traditional music training, few would have been exposed to the later composers.
    It depends what you mean by 'traditional' music training. Exposure to as much of the repertoire as possible was part of my training. Familiarity with the Romantic repertoire was part of this training, but not the totality of it.



    Quote Originally Posted by Cheez View Post
    But coming down to the basic needs, everybody still needs an income to survive in the real world today. Most modern day composers I know of (with my limited knowledge) does it by writing commercially marketable music (TV/commercials/film). Otherwise, new compositions need to be recognised enough to sell in CDs. Otherwise, they need to be teachers or music directors, or something to earn a living in this world. Perhaps Kris, you could help out here to give us more insight into how things work for them.
    It depends how you define 'composing'.

    To take an example from my previous post - Ingram Marshall teaches music at university level as well as composing. However he doesn't make much money from composing. Not enough to live on, anyway.



    Quote Originally Posted by Cheez View Post
    When I was younger, my ambition was to be a trumpet player in the orchestra. Then it was composition. Today, I still compose and write, when time allows. I don't compose "competitively" or to please any audience out there. There are just too many complex musical motifs going on in my head that if I don't pen them down and get them orchestrated, I feel my head would burst with music from the inside out. Two nights ago, for example, I had to tell my wife at 11:30 pm that I need to get the music down on paper before I go to bed, or else I wouldn't be able to sleep. She knows these moments, and encourages me to do it. But...music composition is not my job.

    Kris, more insights?
    When has a 'job' ever defined someone? And if you compose, are you not a composer? Do you have to make money to call yourself a 'composer'? Do you make money from playing guitar? Most people don't. Does this mean they are not 'guitarists'? But I know what you mean - if someone asks what you do, they usually mean how you put bread on the table.

    But yes, making a living from composing is very difficult. I make the majority of my income from composing/performing (private commissions and performances of said commissions usually), and the rest of my income is made up from teaching.

    Some 'composers' do have everyday jobs also - even 'signed' artists. One of my friends is signed to Ricordi, but he pays the bills by working part-time as an engineer. However, it isn't all it is cracked up to be - he has to work part-time in order to give himself time to compose, but as a consequence of this, he lives in a run-down area of his town in a tiny studio apartment.

    But composing is more important to him - as long as he has enough to survive, then he is happy. I've found this to be the case with the vast majority who work in the arts - the actual creative activity is a necessity and simply cannot be sidelined.

    I've been there as well - for a long time, I was living in what could only be described as squalor (i.e. lighting by candle light as I couldn't afford the electricity bills) - but I didn't care, as I had clothes on my back (one spare pair of jeans lol) and could just about manage to put food on the table every night. I didn't bother me in the slightest, as I had the most important thing in a creative life at my disposal - time to create.

    Ironically, there are other areas of classical music that do make a hell of a lot of money i.e. scoring for movies. But you need technical knowledge of the studio and be up to date with gear etc as well as compositional skill to really do well in this field. Plus the ability to compose at the drop of a hat (in some instances, improvise first-take as studio time is very limited). Then there is the obvious that the industry won't just throw the first person who claims to be able to 'compose for movies' onto a feature film - competence has to be proved - in many areas and across many styles/genres. This may mean spending a few years scoring for free for animator friends, doing background music for sculptural installations etc etc

    Someone else I know now works as a composer for film, but he spent years simply 'filling in' when he was needed, and working as a runner etc etc. Pretty much doing anything to be in the environment that would potentially create the opportunity he needed.

    As well as training, contacts are important - university can, in some instances, create contacts within the industry, and lead to potential opportunities.

    Plus, like I was saying, combining artforms i.e working with sculptors/dancers etc etc. This also potentially means double the exposure.





    I don't know the classical music industry side of things in Singapore. Are there any annual contemporary classical music festivals in Singapore - especialy ones that promote Singaporean talent? What about contemporary classical publishing companies?

    Ironically, Singapore has great facilites for putting on great classical concerts/events (and I know they do put on classical concerts, but it's mostly the standard fare).

  2. #12

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    From what I know, most of local full time classical musician do not survive on their full time performance job. They have to teach,sell instrument, to make a better living. Only conductor get the best paid. 5 figure for sure. I know Tang quartet for sure beside perform, teach at varsity , recording seasonist.

    Jazz musician hit the most at this down time. In general, there are lesser gigs. All the famouse one teach. This come from a french jazz composer who live here for very long time. He teach international svhool, and luckily he got a fairly good deal being an arranger of upcoming Jazz album from my friend.

    Chinese pop musician will have a little chance to jump oversea. People like Richard Ho from an pop arranger to commercial ads to film scoring. There are some local producer flew to china to open up new market. Constantly, there are local chinese artist exported out. Composer have the chance to sell their music, but hardly as a main source of income.

    English pop here...............
    Last edited by kongwee; 20-10-09 at 02:35 PM.

  3. #13

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    Jazz french composer? Think I know him. Our local society culture needs to change the whole mentality of people in terms of music composition and local people being more open-mined.

    I think local composers are not given enough opportunties to compose for $$$. And furthermore with the lack of time and low money, some of them dont feel that it's worth composing. I do know of a local company which give opportunties to local composers to compose original songs for music projects.

    Of course at the end of the day, its up to the client to choose if he wants the song. And the director of the company do find it challenging in a way to give support to the musicians here. Whatever it is, it is good that the company wants to do something for the local musicians here.

    For more details, u can visit my music blog. I think its important that we should start focus on giving finanical opportunties to musicians rather than just saying "I Support Local Music!". Well musicians also need $$$ to survive!
    Support Singapore music and get the latest Singapore music news.www.musicartlifesg.blogspot.com

  4. #14

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    on a slightly unrelated note, i think and feel that its time we reach the maximum level for avant-garde composers churning out ever-so-complicated, ever so-untuneful modern day pieces. These are your "continuity" entities of Bach, Busoni, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, etc etc...

    And i don't like where it's going. Just personal opinion though.

  5. #15

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    if music is still evolving, how can it still be getting simpler.

    Prodigies do not necessarily compose. But if all classical prodigies compose, are these prodigies really prodigies if they only play chopin's or liszt's repertoire?

    How do you define maximum level of music? Atonal? Is Mozart really the maximum level? Can he play or write something jazz, blues, rock, atonal, electronic, chinese, african, jamaican or loop music? Or something like writing a tapdancing piece.

    The only thing that will limit music, is when we reach the limit of our human capabilities. Such as writing a guitar piece that requires 3 hands to play.
    Last edited by l0u5y; 09-11-09 at 11:49 AM.

  6. #16

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    I have read Aaron Copeland's What to Listen for in Music where he says you shouldn't judge music on the basis on how nice it sounds.

    But I am stubborn and remain unmoved. I still to hold the vulgar view. If the melody does not sound nice, I like most of the vulgar mass, wouldn't want to listen to it again, or sit to the end of the song. And to want to listen to it again, it better have good "hooks"... being pleasant is not enough, whether it comes about through simplicity or complexity.
    Last edited by ATW10C; 09-11-09 at 02:32 PM.

  7. #17

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    Yup Melody or the hook made people remember the music.

  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by l0u5y View Post
    if music is still evolving, how can it still be getting simpler.

    Evolution doesn't necessarily imply increasing complexity.

    Look at minimalism.



    Listen to Arvo Part and you'll see what I mean.

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by ATW10C View Post
    But I am stubborn and remain unmoved. I still to hold the vulgar view. If the melody does not sound nice, I like most of the vulgar mass, wouldn't want to listen to it again
    Could you define what a 'nice' sounding melody is?

    What difference does it make if a composer writes a piece and no one likes it? Maybe all this shows is that the work is so original the masses don't know how to react to it, since aesthetic judgement of music is primarily a social convention anyway?

  10. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by nikolaiski View Post
    i think and feel that its time we reach the maximum level for avant-garde composers churning out ever-so-complicated, ever so-untuneful modern day pieces.
    Avant-garde doesn't mean 'tuneless and complicated' (which are both relative terms anyway).

    The nature of avant-garde is breaking the convention of expectancy within a set artform.

    If the majority of music was 'complex and tuneless', then avant-garde music could well be a simpler, more direct musical form (as it would be a form running counter to the expected norm within the specific genre).

    But don't take the 'avant-garde' label too seriously. You don't want to become a Dadaist and end up shooting yourself

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