PBS 5: Being a real composer

The phrase ‘real composer’ is not a metaphysical fantasy. It is names a very real, albeit very complicated thing in the world. It is the name of that person who serves the internal development of music by putting dots and squiggles on paper.

It is not something that you are blessed with, or some inscrutable mastery that is inexplicably attained. No absolute metaphysical gulf separates anyone from real composing – physical things often do (economic situation, access to education, etc…).

On the other hand, the now commonplace critique of the ‘real composer’ as Western-cultural-ideological-metaphysical naivety is itself an ideological function serving to reduce the status of ‘composer’ to “someone who functions more or less adequately in the market of art music.”

This is petty liberalist materialism – taking the tradition as a superstition, and opposing to it the rationality of the market.

Neither inexplicable blessing, nor superstitious cultural fiction. The real composer is not a metaphysical entity positively or negatively conceived.

Nor is ‘being a real composer’ simply radically following your own desire against market logic or cultural logic. This road tends to exit music.

It is certainly not seeing, as I have done in the past, Western musical history as nothing more than its fetishised state in the culture industry and equating an attack on music history as an attack on the market logic.

A composer must form him or herself through music history (as sound, score and letters) insofar as it is his or her most fundamental materiality. But in and through this history must be wrung from the clutches of the culture industry some real development of music as such.

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One thought on “PBS 5: Being a real composer

  1. Reblogged this on lenoirdeletoile and commented:
    This is completely right. “The real composer is not a metaphysical entity”, shrouded in some kind of genius. Additionally, “in and through this history [they] must be wrung from the clutches of the culture industry some real development of music as such.”

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