Monday, 21 September 2015

Cutting Edge vs Accessibility

I recently read a book on Australian women composers, Women of Note. It didn't list every Aussie sheila composer (because there are a lot of us), but listed some of the more influential ones.

Maybe. There were a few I thought who should be in there, but weren't. Like Elissa Milne.

One thing I did notice was that the later composers were all avante garde, on the cutting edge of style.

For example, fellow Perth composer Cat Hope:

This modern atonal, arhythmic style is very much Not My Thing. As a student of music, i can understand the genius behind it, and have performed similar pieces, but does it appeal to my taste? Not really.

I also got to thinking about modern art--you know, the strange, abstract splattered-paint-on-a-canvas kind of art. Again, I don't get it as much as I think the artist wants me to get it. Even if the artist's main point was to get me to think, I fear she  may have failed with me, when my only thought is, "Huh?"

Nevertheless, all Art and all Music does get me thinking on a certain level, namely, What Do I Like?

I spent most of my musical life playing the violin, either as a solo instrument or in an orchestra of some kind. Like all music students from the U of U, I did pick up some piano skills, and later refined them from the AMEB. I find the piano as one of the more indispensable tools for composition.

It is in learning the piano that I discovered what I love most about  music: harmony. I love how sounds blend together, especially how that blending will sing to the human heart.

I've also discovered I have a taste for music with Romantic-era influences. Most of my elective pieces for the past few grades have been from the Romantic era.

Also, thinking about the music I love to listen to, I discovered that I mostly prefer....


Yep, Soundtracks, as in the music you hear on movies, and the music you hear in video games.

Video games?!?

Absolutely. It's beautiful, evocative stuff that is very reminiscent of the 19th Century Romantic-era compositions. Most working composers today earn their crusts through composing sound tracks.

Soundtracks are specifically designed to portray emotionality. It's like they are telling you how you should feel.  For example, nothing says "ridiculous slapstick" like the Benny Hill theme, aka "Yackety Sax". Another example is the spookily addictive bell-like opening tune to Harry Potter. (I set it as my ringtone for several years.)

As Jazz defined the first half of the 20th Century and Rock'n'Roll the second half, I declare the Soundtrack to be the definitive music of the beginning 21st Century.

Why?  Because it's so highly accessible to the masses. Everyone listens to soundtracks, whether they realise it or not. This is what our descendants will note as the definitive and noteworthy music composition of this time.

John Williams (all hail the master!)
Danny Elfman
Nigel Westlake

Even if you might not recognise their names, you'd certainly recognise their music.

Ultimately, I believe art should reflect the Human Experience in a way that many humans can relate to. For this to truly succeed, I feel it needs to be accessible to them.

Soundtracks certainly do that.

Her Grace would be a career composer if she couldn't be a career author.

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