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For whom do you make music?

An audience, real or imagined? Yourself? Or do you just create … without caring about the whom?

Sometimes I create pieces for a real/specific audience (a friend, fellow composer, dance company). sometimes for an imagined/general audience (lovers of experimental electronica). sometimes for myself, without feeling the desire/need to share the results with anyone.

Sometimes I make pieces for MUSIC itself: MUSIC as passionate audience, colleague, friend.

John Cage said that an unperformed (un-distributed) composition was half a composition. I dunno … some of what i’d consider to be my best work has never been heard by anyone but me, my cats, and the floorboards. Morton Feldman used to give this assignment to his composition students: Write a piece that only you will ever hear.

I’ve even gone so far at times as to conceive, compose, and perform full pieces entirely in my head. (It’s great fun; you should try it!) Does that make them half (quarter/sixteenth) compositions? Or not compositions at all, just figments of my imagination?

I invite you to weigh in: For whom do you make music? :-)

Posted on November 15, 2011 at 8:26 am by rachmiel · Permalink

2 Responses

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  1. Written by Matt
    on November 15, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Mostly I write music for me. I enjoy writing music, so I write what I enjoy (within the confines of my abaility at least!). This can be partially identified by those moments when I find myself thinking “I could really do with suchandsuchgenre on my iPod”, which result in my opening a project in my DAW and making something that fits that genre.

    This can be anything from dark, brooding dubstep with an orchestral accompaniment, to swirling ambient soundscapes with a hint of Chinese folk instrumentation. If I want to listen to something, I’ll try and make it before I search out someone else’s interpretation.

    The other side of the coin, and I use the word coin carefully, is making a career out of music and therefore making music for someone else. That someone else will be paying me to do something, so I have to find the happy blend between what they want and what I think is right. But this can be a creative limitation. Other people’s rules can be as inspiring as your own. And if you don’t get inspired by them, you don’t get paid!

  2. Written by rachmiel
    on November 18, 2011 at 11:34 am

    matt, hi. :-) a question: when you make a piece for yourself, do you usually (sometimes? rarely?) feel the desire/need to share it with others? let’s say you got inspired from an mp3 you ran into on the web, spent 20 intense hours doing a piece in that style for yourself, lovingly crafted/mixed/mastered it … and no one other than you ever ended up hearing the piece. would that be a shame, a loss? or is the connection between you and your creation all that’s needed for full “success?”

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