Music and Meaning

Dan, myself, Mercedes, and William all had a few glasses of wine and began to rant about music on sunday.

It was a fascinating discussion. William gets very up in arms about composers inventing a new musical language for every piece, then getting upset when listeners don’t get it right off the bat. And I think he’s right.

Dan told war stories about music comp majors deriding him for not writing more academic music.

Mercedes said several very insightful things but due to the several glasses of wine and my fixation on a wedge of champignon cheese I cannot right now recall what they were. I’m sure it’ll come to me.

It does bring up some interesting points – how much obligation does a musician have to the listener? I’ve always been a proponent of “make music for yourself” but then again, fi you want other people to hear it, you can’t be arrogant enough to assume that other people have any obligation to give you a fair listen. Musicians are as vanguardist as socialists sometimes – “we know what’s best and you’ll catch up with us later.”

The conversation meandered quite a bit after that, and I got really tired, but it really was a fascinating discussion. Perhaps Dan will at some point put forth his ideas in this forum for us to read. And maybe I should give William and Mercy accounts too. I’ll stand back, smile and nod and pretend I have some idea what they’re talking about.


  1. Hi,
    I’ve been into writing and performing music for about 20 years. I’m no virtuoso but I enjoy music more than any thing else I?ve ever done. Over the years my ideas about music have changed . Originally I thought that when composing you should only write for yourself in order to produce the best possible, most honest music? but as a said my ideas have changed. Now I believe the best composers not only continually explore new musical ideas and challenges but they keep it accessible to the casual listener. It seems to be a special quality and talent. It?s like going away and exploring something that no one has encountered before and then studying it to such a degree that when you return from your voyage, you can explain it to everyone else in an everyday language so they can understand. I still love to listen to music from the edge, you know, stuff that non-musos don?t really get… but I think the next step is to be able to relate the stuff from the edge in a familiar context.

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