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Monday, February 27, 2006

Creative Redundancy

If a piece of music isn't original, is it worth anything?

I hope the answer is "yes", because I don't see almost any of what I compose as original. I always intend for it to be original when I'm starting out, but soon after (This can take anywhere between a half minute and a week.) I realize that it's exactly like three things I've heard many times before. Most often what's being ripped off is The Lord of the Rings, Babylon 5, Disney musicals, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and/or trashy pop. After the inevitable realization, I'm still just as much in love with the theme as I was before, but I play it less. It becomes a guilty pleasure. I start wishing I hadn't come up with it in the first place, so that it couldn't have broken my heart.

It's not always a rip-off. There are one or two pieces of mine which, to this day, I haven't noticed to be completely derivative. I don't like them as much as the others. They're pretty dry, without any emotion. I suppose when it comes to writing emotion, I'm just a leech. It makes sense. I'm reminded of when Stasia tried getting me to play a romantic piece. I was just hopeless. I tried, I really did. But I had no clue what I was meant to be doing.

Anyhow, when I come up with a theme, I want to be moved by it. So it always turns out to be taken from somewhere else. Does this make me redundant as a composer? I think it does. I'm reminded of when Eliezer tried getting me to write something original. I came up with some interesting original material, because I do have some talent. But I wasn't interested in it so much; I preferred to go off in more derivative directions for the variations. I'm capable of playing piano decently enough, because I do have some talent, but I'm not interested much; I'd prefer to spend my life making videogames. At least there's plenty of room for structural advances in gamism.

You know the funniest part of all this? A few hours ago, I "came up" with a new theme which blew me away. I worked on it for around an hour, trying to get it just right. I felt very proud of myself when it starting sounding nice. It's so catchy it's still stubbornly refusing to leave my mind. Well, I realized after that hour that it was derivative. That was no surprise. What was a surprise was where it came from- You see, this theme was not just a rip-off, it was a rip-off of my own piece! It sounded exactly like something else I'd just composed (itself heavily derivative), and I'd gone an hour without noticing it!

In this case, the solution is simple: I'll just append this new variation to the original piece. I hadn't worked out an ending yet, so that should be no problem. But the question remains: If my compositions are so redundant, then what's the point?



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