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Simple art or complex??
Simple! 43%  43%  [ 3 ]
Complex! 57%  57%  [ 4 ]
Total votes : 7

AScomposer13413
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24 Mar 2012, 6:08 pm

Being a composer, one of the things I've struggled to get a firm grasp of is whether or not I want to be writing complex music to prove I have a certain aptitude for certain concepts, or if I want to keep things simple and let expression take its course. I'm not sure if it's part of my AS, but it seems, for me, I have yet to find that striking balance, if I need one.

So I'm putting this to all the WP artists out there: when doing your art, which do you prefer: simple, or complex??



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24 Mar 2012, 8:02 pm

if it bothers you, then pursuit the balance that you have not found. I personally don't care, it's just whatever I feel like doing at the moment, and what feels right, or what peaks my curiosity enough to explore. I enjoy the challenge that comes with challenging myself with something very complex though, but like I said, unless you really love either style, just go with whatever you feel at the moment.


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AScomposer13413
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24 Mar 2012, 10:17 pm

Hm...I guess that might have to be the case currently. I just dislike doing it knowing I may have to justify this somehow, when really, I just need to write. Don't think much...just write!



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25 Mar 2012, 12:48 pm

You should let it flow through you freely. Pure, honest art is beautiful no matter the complexity.



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25 Mar 2012, 8:46 pm

I don't like unnecessary complexity.
Technique for technique's sake is just showing off.


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AScomposer13413
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25 Mar 2012, 9:41 pm

Who_Am_I wrote:
I don't like unnecessary complexity.
Technique for technique's sake is just showing off.


Hate to be that philosophical guy, but what defines unnecessary? What defines "technique for technique's sake"?



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26 Mar 2012, 12:52 am

It's not about simple or complex for me. It's about whether or not it works.

Does it flow? Does it take me somewhere? Do I want to go there? Am I glad it did when I get there?

Answer yes to all those questions and simple or complex doesn't matter anymore.

I generally make songs do what I need them to do only when I'm rewriting them to pull out all the crap that doesn't need to be there. That's songs though. Purely musical compositions are a different story. When I write those, I let the music take me where it wants to go, however it seems to want to. I hear it. I write it. If it seems to want to keep going, I keep writing. Sooner or later, it comes home, or wherever else it wanted to go. Sometimes what I hear is very simple, yet has far more impact than complexity could ever give it. Sometimes it needs to be complex.

If I've learned one thing, it's not to think too much and overanalyze the work. Ever see the movie "Finding Forrester?" It's not about music writing, but the quote still fits:

"No. No thinking! Write! Thinking comes later..."


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26 Mar 2012, 3:30 am

I prefer simple.

My art is music, and unnecessary complication in the name of technicality that so many bands fall for these days... ugh. Technicality means nothing if it isn't good to begin with.


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AngelRho
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26 Mar 2012, 11:59 am

AScomposer13413 wrote:
Who_Am_I wrote:
I don't like unnecessary complexity.
Technique for technique's sake is just showing off.


Hate to be that philosophical guy, but what defines unnecessary? What defines "technique for technique's sake"?

Brian Ferneyhough

:lol:



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26 Mar 2012, 12:27 pm

I'd say be only as complicated as you need to be. Unless it's a test/exam in which you need to prove your ability I don't really see the point. Most of the time the listener is less bothered about aptitude than the musician is...for every musician or songwriter who's made his or her name through technical virtuosity there are at least as many who do amazing things that are fairly straightforward. I can think of loads of musicians and songwriters who I admire whose performances are deceptively simple and straightforward...they make everything else sound like it's 'overdone' to compensate, if that makes sense.

I have a comfort zone where the arrangement is of a certain complexity, but I don't like to clutter it with too many overdubs or phrases. One, it makes the performance/recording process more laborious and two, I don't bother if I don't think potential listeners wouldn't notice (or, indeed, if they'd find it offputting and overwhelming). I suppose the bottom line is: what sort of music are you trying to make? Sometimes complexity adds depth while other times it doesn't add anything noticeable at all.

I hope that helps..I've been a music fan for a long time but I'm really just a beginner in writing my own. Best of luck!



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26 Mar 2012, 1:48 pm

I have no experience whatsoever in making music, but I have plenty in listening to music.
In music, I somewhat prefer simple songs over complex songs, as these simple songs often do best for me what communication is: getting a message across.

In my main art, which is writing very short Dutch stories that are never finished as all characters die before page three, I prefer complex and simple structures combined.
One moment, I'll have a full paragraph. Then one short sentence contradicts and ends the paragraph, or adds a cynical note.



Uprising
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26 Mar 2012, 2:10 pm

I like simple melodies using complex sounds/textures.



AScomposer13413
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26 Mar 2012, 2:24 pm

AngelRho wrote:
AScomposer13413 wrote:
Who_Am_I wrote:
I don't like unnecessary complexity.
Technique for technique's sake is just showing off.


Hate to be that philosophical guy, but what defines unnecessary? What defines "technique for technique's sake"?

Brian Ferneyhough

:lol:


:lmao: Oh man, that was good, AngelRho! You just made my day!



AngelRho
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26 Mar 2012, 2:37 pm

Honestly, I'm more drawn to complexity. For composers, though, there are going to be some factors that demand consideration. My apologies in advance for a long post, but this has been an intense personal struggle of mine for the past several years.

Admit it or not, the first factor is probably going to be the target audience. Are you composing for an audience of university professors and students or for a commercial film release aimed at a specific demographic? One one side, you have an select "salon" audience of intellectuals who will judge you based on your ability to realize your artistic vision within their various subjective notions of "artistic integrity," whatever that means (usually just out-of-the-box, innovative craft-refinement not overtly purposed for mass appeal or for making a profit). I see nothing wrong with that, and I see nothing wrong with commercially-driven music the likes of John Williams are Danny Elfman--two extremes on the continuum, but nonetheless commercially desirable. Commercial tastes lean heavily towards the conventional and conservative. Pseudo-intellectualized musical art is all about the depth of the presentation--which may or may not be driven by musical complexity. If you're pursuing composition as a purely high-intellectual art rather than a commercial art, you have to satisfy the conditions that a) you get the concepts they're trying to beat into your brain, and b) you can take these ideas and synthesize a realizable work. Simplicity/Complexity boils down to a matter of taste, and university profs aren't going to demand you go one direction or another. They just want to know if you can handle the medium in which you chose to be creative.

The second factor is the musicians you decide to work with. Composition is a collaborative art and the performer(s) is(are) half the creative team. Some performers just plain suck. So...how do you work with unprofessional musicians that are credentialed really only on paper? Quite simply, you have to exploit their strengths. If each performer only knows how to play one note on his or her chosen instrument, then that's the only note you write for them. If your violinist has awful intonation that not even a mother could love, then it's a good idea to follow some kind of indeterminism that doesn't force the performer to work towards pitch accuracy. If you're working with a string quartet that normally doesn't play anything other than weddings, you're off your rocker if you write extreme high pitches and harmonics and expect your two violinists to double 5ths and octaves up there--and forget about your cellist playing the sound effects you want--I speak from experience here, btw. If the cellist's mom is the pianist, be kind (again, this actually happened to me: a pianist had a nervous breakdown trying to learn something I'd written). Always, ALL-ways, ALWAYS stay in constant contact with your performers, for they are inherently incompetent when it comes to new music. Leave NOTHING to the imagination, never leave them unsupervised to work on something. I go to great lengths to make realistic demos of my instrumental music, and I'm prepared to fake a fit of rage if I have to when performers fail to listen to my demos and observe EVERY SINGLE MARKING I put in the score and on their part. Oh, and I also make a point of getting small ensembles to read a score as well as their own part. I'll even highlight an individual part so a musician can hear exactly where they are in the ensemble. Despite my best efforts, I never can seem to win, and that has turned my attitude largely in the negative towards typical classical performers.

Now, I say TYPICAL classical performers... If you can work with symphony principles, university ensembles, or paid session players, you do get a different calibre of musician--especially if we're talking session players who you can fire just for fun. It's the whole "you-need-me-and-I-don't-have-to-follow-instructions" jerk that you find most often when you aren't a uni prof or have a large grant and you end up paying your people out of your own pocket. The reality is that a composer is only going to be as good as his musicians, and you'll end up making a ton of concessions based on how good your players are at doing certain things and their willingness to buy into what you're trying to accomplish.

The unfortunate effect this has on you as the composer is you develop a reputation for what you write--since you're apparently so good at it judging from the performances you get--that it severely curbs your ability to do the kinds of things you really want to do. So as an electro-acoustic composer, I've learned that the only person I can really depend on is myself. But that isn't a bad thing, either, since that puts me in total control over the outcome.

At the moment I'm going through one of my sound-design phases, which typically happens right before I start really cranking out some good work. Sorry for reposting the same-ol' material, but here it is for comparison.

#1--an example of what I ENJOY doing. It's rough and unrefined since I've been learning how to take advantage of a particular synthesizer I've grown fond of, but it's enough to get the idea across:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJRojtHiSfs[/youtube]

#2--what I typically have to settle for:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Snp5xZSc8vQ[/youtube]

It's not the #2 isn't worthwhile or enjoyable, because it really is. But I want to get my music performed by other musicians and that often involves making compromises that I don't feel entirely comfortable having to do.

Now, what does that have to do with complexity? Well...you shouldn't have to feel limited in terms of what you compose. If you feel like doing something complex, do something complex. If you feel like keeping it simple, keep it simple. However, if you go the complexity route, you run the risk of having your music judged by performers as being recondite and getting poor-quality performances--and that's IF you actually get performances. If the performers don't enjoy what you're doing, neither is your audience. Much of the challenge in getting your music performed by other musicians is making sure that your music is even playable, and just what "playable" is will be defined according to the calibre of musicians you get to work with.



Uprising
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26 Mar 2012, 2:42 pm

That space music track is so damn good!



AngelRho
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26 Mar 2012, 2:48 pm

AScomposer13413 wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
AScomposer13413 wrote:
Who_Am_I wrote:
I don't like unnecessary complexity.
Technique for technique's sake is just showing off.


Hate to be that philosophical guy, but what defines unnecessary? What defines "technique for technique's sake"?

Brian Ferneyhough

:lol:


:lmao: Oh man, that was good, AngelRho! You just made my day!


lol

Glad I could be of service! Don't get me wrong, I like listening to "New Complexity" almost as much as "classic" serialism. I don't have any real beef with Ferneyhough, but I do have to call a lot of his notational decisions into question. If you're causing debates as to how your music should be interpreted, I think you're doing something wrong. Nobody likes to play from illegible scores. Ferneyhough could get identical results just by taking a lesson or two from Schwantner.