Composer Redefines Himself In Some Stupid Way

John Man is a classical composer with a distinctive style. Until recently he could sort of evoke that style by just listing a couple of other composer’s names and saying the word “meets” in between, but now he wants to be more unique than that, so he has officially redefined himself in some other way that makes just enough sense not to be wrong.

“I felt a bit lost because there wasn’t a catchy term to describe what I write,” he said. “I mean, what are people supposed to do? Listen to my music?”

Man says he hit upon the perfect way to express his music with adjectives after reading The Inner Game of Composition five times. “Many of my colleagues are just your run of the mill Post-War composers,” he said as he boldly dallied with tonal harmonies. “Not me. I’m a Post-Plague composer. Probably bubonic, I think. But only posterity can decide that.”

One of Man’s colleagues, Bob Guy, found this definition to be ridiculous. “That was so long ago,” he said as he avoided using opus numbers throughout his oeuvre. “How can he still be relevant, like me? I’m a Post-Toilet-Paper composer, and we use that every day. How often do you use bubonic plague? Probably rarely.”

Despite their irreconcilable and very important differences, Man and Guy both agreed that it was vital for them to define themselves according to things that happened before they were born. “We’re composers,” they explained in someone’s program notes. “Living is just something to get out of the way so that our work can be free of human corruption.”

Sally McNally, a female composer, doesn’t have to worry about this problem at all. “I have tried to define myself many times,” she said as she quoted some obscure folksong with a clever orchestration, “but I will forever be considered a Female Composer. I’m grateful that this is not incorrect.”

Man dreads the day when a much younger composer comes along and is able to define himself as a Post-GFC composer. “I hate that kid already,” he said. “What a poser.”

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5 Responses

  1. eloisehellyer says:

    Ruggiero Ricci once told me that too many young artists are trying to put their own stamp on the music they play – as he said, “what’re you going to do that’s different or better than what’s been done before?” The answer is, very little. So just play the piece and forget about yourself. Do what is good for the music not what is good for your ego. The same thing with composing. Just compose it and let other much less creative people who have nothing else to do with their time categorize you. Point well made, Chad. Too many people are worried about style (and their place in “history”) rather than substance. If you’re any good – well, as the Italians say: “if they’re roses, they will bloom” and let other people decide what kind of roses they are.

  2. aufzuleiden says:

    An easy way for young(ish) contemporary composers (anyone who completed their studies in the 90’s or later) could be to define themselves, regardless of the musical language they use, as a “Post Cold War Composer” – though, as a composer using modes of my own creation, I’m perfectly satisfied to call myself a “Post Tonal Composer, composing Impressionistic and Expressionistic music” (yes, it’s a bit of a mouthful, but … so is the music). When music is something that takes time to explore it should not necessarily be so easy to define (yes, I’m well aware that this article was not serious … I’m just making a point from the perspective of a composer).

    In reference to a “Woman Composer” – that really isn’t a definition considering that it doesn’t refer to a time period: Clara Schumann, from the Romantic period, was a woman composer, as was Hildegard von Bingen, from the Renaissance. It refers to gender and occupation/vocation. Just saying.

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