The Muse That Sings: Composers Speak about the Creative Process

The Muse That Sings: Composers Speak about the Creative Process

by Ann McCutchan, Anne McCutchan
     
 

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The Muse That Sings is a unique behind-the-scenes look at both twentieth-century music and the nuts and bolts of creative work. Here, twenty-five of America's leading composers—from Adams to Zorn, from Bolcom to Vierk—talk candidly about their craft, their motivations, their difficulties, and how they how proceed from musical idea to finished composition.

Overview

The Muse That Sings is a unique behind-the-scenes look at both twentieth-century music and the nuts and bolts of creative work. Here, twenty-five of America's leading composers—from Adams to Zorn, from Bolcom to Vierk—talk candidly about their craft, their motivations, their difficulties, and how they how proceed from musical idea to finished composition.

While focusing on the process and the stories behind specific works, the composers also touch on topics that will interest anyone involved in creative work. They discuss teachers and mentors, the task of revision, relationships with performers, and the ongoing struggle for a balance between freedom and discipline.

They reveal sources of inspiration, artistic goals, and the often unexpected ways their musical ideas develop. Some describe personal tonal systems; others discuss the impact of computers and other electronic tools on their work; still others reflect philosophically on the inner impulses and outer influences that continue to drive them.

While serious music has a reputation for being difficult and inaccessible, The Muse That Sings provides a powerful antidote. The composers in this book speak clearly and thoughtfully in response to key questions of concern to all readers interested in contemporary music.

Each interview has been edited to stand alone as a concise meditation on muse and technique, and the book includes selected discographies as well as brief biographical sketches.

Anyone with an interest in twentieth-century music or in the creative process will find this lively collection a valuable source of inspiration and insight.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"These interviews with 25 composers are distilled to short, informal yet highly focused discussions....[McCutchan] allows the voices of the composers—most of whom live and work in the U.S. and were born between 1930 and 1960—to come through with candor...These intimate snapshots of creative artists contemplating their role and function at the end of the 20th century succeed not only in shedding light on the creative process, but in dispelling many of the negative stereotypes attached to contemporary music." —Publishers Weekly

"McCutchan has welded her talents as a performing musician and write to produce a highly readable assessment of the serious music currently being written...The Muse That Sings should be in public libraries and academic music libraries, accessible to the serious layman, music student, and professional musician. It is recommended for those eager to explore the music pouring out of our American composers and should inspire performances of their music." —Notes

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
These interviews with 25 composers are distilled to short, informal yet highly focused discussions in which almost all of the composers refer in some way to the academic serialist movement that has been scaring off audiences for 50 years. McCutchan (Marcel Moyse: Voice of the Flute), who conducted the interviews between 1995 and 1998, allows the voices of the composers--most of whom live and work in the U.S. and were born between 1930 and 1960--to come through with candor. John Corigliano explains that he composed his opera Ghosts of Versailles in colored crayons because he "wanted the color of the sound to change as a single line moved." On the relative importance of self-doubt, Bruce Adolphe, education adviser to New York's Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, says, "Doubt is a waste of energy when you're trying to be creative, but it's useful when you're editing the piece." About his work habits, Steve Reich says, "What happens in 95 percent of the pieces is that I work a lot, I trash a lot, I revise a lot"; and John Zorn, who has influenced the downtown avant-garde music scene, explains, "The sensibility of the generation that I belong to, which is interested in world music, jazz, funk, hard-core punk, classical music... is the same one Mozart had. He made use of everything around him." Rounding out each interview is a selected list of the composer's work. These intimate snapshots of creative artists contemplating their role and function at the end of the 20th century succeed not only in shedding light on the creative process, but in dispelling many of the negative stereotypes attached to contemporary music. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195127072
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
11/28/1999
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile:
1080L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Award-winning fine arts writer Ann McCutchan is also the author of Marcel Moyse: Voice of the Flute (1994). She is a Lecturer in the School of Music at the University of Texas.

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