ON COMPOSING

DOING IT, TEACHING DAVID WARD-STEINMAN

IT, LIVING IT

Indiana University, San Diego State University
dwardste@indiana.edu

This paper is concerned with the craft and pedagogy of contemporary classical composition, starting with an examination of French pedagogy as I received it from Darius Milhaud and Nadia Boulanger in the late 1950s. I discuss their different points of view (briefly the global approach to composition vs. what might be termed the molecular), the composition process itself (what can and what cannot be taught), counterpoint, improvisation, writer's block, the current state of the art, our sister arts, and the changing audience for serious music, along with the increasing importance of improvisation and world music in composition and its pedagogy. I also discuss how many of these elements were implemented in the model Comprehensive Musicianship curriculum at San Diego State University that I designed and directed {rom 1967 until 2003... This paper is concerned with the craft and pedagogy of contemporary serious composition, variously called "art music," "contemporary classical music," "modern or postrnoclern music" or "all-classical" for the latest variety. Some of it is unavoidably autobiographical, reflecting n1y own training, experiences, convictions, and thoughts about the changing nature and future of composition, what can and cannot be taught, and how we might teach it. And some of it is about

© Philosophy of Music Education Review, 19, no. 1 (Spring 2011)

Reprinted with permission from Philosophy of Music Education Review, Volume 19 Number 1,2011, a publication of Indiana University Press

Ned Rorern. Today. Along the way. but that we need in order to complete the recursive triangle of cornmunication from composition to performance to listening and reflecting. and finally the audience we have and seen) to be losing." Then in the next breath he observed that: . every student's relationship with her was unique. changing forever the way I thought about music and life. but between master's and doctoral studies I was able to spend a year in Paris studying with Nadia Boulanger. Because much of what I learned from her is still very relevant to the problems we face today. and perhaps (who knows) of all time. I am glad I did because her influence was profound. [Nadia Boulanger] is the most remarkable pedagogue of our century. and I have not previously written about ours. and the ones with talent usually didn't have any money. the composition process. except for a summer with Darius Milhaud at the Aspen Music School. 19:1 why we compose and how it affects our lives. When I went to study with her in 1958-59 I was not at all anxious to join the burgeoning ranks of the Boulangerie populated by her myriads of students. but what I learned from nly studies with Milhaud in the summer of 1956 and Nadia Boulanger in 1958-59 was a very different approach and perspective.6 PHILOSOPHY OF MUSIC FDUCATION REVIEW. and had learned something valuable from each of them. My initial training (piano. the current state of the art. composition in that order) was thoroughly American.") But though I might have continued with Milhaud if it had been his year to return to Paris. to keep an open mind. or other technical studies. I had had many good composition and piano teachers in the past. counterpoint. THE FRENCH CONNECTION Though the pedagogy of Nadia Boulanger is well-documented. our sister arts.her. in an often quoted encomium. theory. especially her American students. especially those who never had the opportunity to study with her. And I was fortunate to study composition with. (She later told me that it was her misfortune that her "students with money usually didn't have any talent. wrote that "to everyone in the musical world and to thousands out of it. I will discuss French pedagogy for its different points of view. and to try everything she suggested at least once. I was determined to take advantage of the opportunity that arose to study with Boulanger. while most of her students were doing something else-seemingly endless solfege. so I would like to begin by discussing the French connection. writer's block. many of whorn I thought went to study with her simply because she was fashionable and famous. courtesy of a traveling fellowship from the University of Illinois. I think it worth revisiting for the purposes of this article. many musicians are ambivalent about her teaching. most of whom she thought lacked sufficient technical training.

it goes nowhere. a surprising advantage for her. it was necessary that nothing should be left that negation could remove. for example. but she could be very "inventive. tragic than a teacher. she had no stylistic biases of her own except perhaps against 12-tone music (at least until Stravinsky started writing it). a bad idea is worth nothing. It is easier to be objective about your own work after you have put it aside for six months or so. remove what is negative and then only the positive will be left (Easier said than clone when the negative is not initially apparent. a shimmer attracting others who fear to make love . Throw it out!" This was followed by.. "That page is useless. Having given up composition early in her life. would say. and contextual in her criticism of my music.. are you sure it is the best note?" Darius Milhaud. "Every note in the music must be necessary and pull its own weight." So I repeated a passage he had called a "good idea" and he said.) ON LINEARIIT AND CONTINUIlY Milhaud was of the conviction that "you should always know where you are in a piece. you should either be going somewhere or corning from somewhere. H. Auden expressed the same idea more elliptically in the context of a long poem: "Before the Positive could manifest Itself specifically." He also applied this injunction to my orchestration. Hers synthetic electricNothing's more 7 The fact that Boulanger was no longer a COlTIpOSer('(uncreative" as Rorem mistakenly would have it) was. It is never a good idea to publish something while the "ink" is still wet. "A good idea is worth repeating.. and I asked her why she had stopped composing."? Or more simply. She was a grand one.' could: by fortifycould have built world today. as I soon discovered." objective. ((I have not invention" was her answer. vary it or develop it further.DAVIDWARD-STEINMAN She accomplishes this as only a strong and pious woman ing the myth of technique. (He himself composed and orchestrated in ink directly on master sheets as I often observed. "Why do you write F-sharp here. Only a female (and uncreative) within herself the most spectacular musical metier in the is the search for a true spark among those crackling in her ity. If you wish to repeat somethir g. I once tried to compliment her on some of her compositions that I had just heard performed.) Boulanger said." . by comparison. in effect. never treading water. with nary a pencil or preliminary sketch in sight. every part should be able to stand alone. I think. Boulanger would say. ilA composer should never do work a copyist can do. nor did she have any music of her own to promote." W. if you can remove anything without harming the passage then it doesn't belong there.

and these are then subject to revision and change. Between my being alternately stretched and squeezed by both approaches. rearranging them in every possible way to show that Beethoven's choices were indeed the "best" and how any other voicing would have diminished their effectiveness. so lines are to be worked out first. 19:1 Boulanger offered contextual technical advice for achieving essentially the same goal: <You've already used those notes. but can often reflect the musical personality of the mentors. ) Composition pedagogy in the U. which is frequently perpetuated by the conlposers themselves when hiring new faculty. and notice their growth in importance fronl Haydn to Mozart through Beethoven. not just in the Urlinie and the Bassbrechung outer parts. less ideology-driven. thus interrupting fa grande figne or never allowing one to develop. is usually more eclectic. Milhaud also seemed to intuit Schenker's theories.S. at least initially. she was essentially in tune intuitively with his idea of linear "directed motion" in all the parts. but in a much vaguer and less explicit way. Boulanger's approach to composition pedagogy was perhaps more horizontal/linear than vertical/harmonic. the treatment of the viola parts in classic string quartets. The vertical details corne later. 127 String Quartet. for example. Academic and conservatory schools of music often choose their composition faculty for stylistic compatibility. the latter because he thought these were "forever starting and stopping" like the classical sectional variations that kept the usual short form of the theme. (Though she never mentioned the analytical theories of Heinrich Schenker. conservative tonal composers would not be welcome. now. (Compare. just as there have been well-known schools where the entire composition faculty was . You must save something for the ending. by comparison. There are places where. but Milhaud's approach was more macroforrnal. depending on one's own stylistic preferences or biases. perhaps something good would enlerge. they are no longer fresh. Line is. or (2) a piece in theme-and-variations form. more important than harmony. It is in details like these where real craft (or the relative lack of it) is manifest." pointing out the soprano line and final bars of the first movement of Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms as an example. But despite Milhaud's compositional devotion to fa grande ligne he relied on harmony (especially poly-harmony and poly-tonality) as well as counterpoint to express himself. Boulanger's more microforrnal.8 PHILOSOPHY OF MUSIC EDUCATION R_EVIEW. say. Yet she could spend an entire analysis class discussing the voicing of Beethoven's opening chords in the Op.) Both Boulanger and Milhaud espoused fa grande ligne C'the long line") in music. In this way a sense of harmonic flow is established in a piece. He once told me that there were only two kinds of pieces he would never write: (1) a monophonic piece for a solo wind or brass instrument (no possibility of harmony or counterpoint). which mayor may not be a good thing.

THE CRAFT OF COMPOSITION Can composition really be taught? Is craft something separate from the art of composing? Are counterpoint and theory the tools of craft? These tools can indeed by taught." and he never did teach composition. I personally believe that composition can indeed be taught. But all this is in a state of flux. son Soulirna to Nadia Boulanger for training. it is the only manifestation of <talent' I know of. "the whole 111an. writing about art. Stravinsky and Malraux are not alone in discounting the importance of technique per se.'" which leaves really nothing about composition that Stravinsky thought could be "taught. the American painter and teacher.DAVIDWARD-STELNMAN 9 conservative and tonal. with that I cannot interfere."4 Earlier. This means it is not within our means to develop it by study. other than as an insight into historical styles and methods. not composed "in the abstract" and then orchestrated. At the Jacobs School of Music. had similar doubts about the value of technique: "La Coherence du chef-d'oeuvre est celle de sa conqueie. Indiana University (Bloomington). Of course it is only a means to an end. and that the teacher's job is to help the student express him. which he conflates with technique: "The capacity for melody is a gift. I also believe that musical ideas should be conceived idiomatically for specific instruments or ensembles. he had been emphatic about the art of melody. then. and avant-garde or even serial composers were not welcome. and not to its technique.the coherence of the masterpiece is due to its conquest. guaranteeing a diversity of viewpoints.or herself musically and nurture whatever artistic spark or talent may be present. up to a point technique and talent are the same. nor scholarship. in the Poetics (1947). neither is it learning. Igor Stravinsky. but I teach the scientific application of paint and brushes." And "since we can recognize technical skill when we can recognize nothing else. the craft. as quoted in 1958 by Robert Craft in the first of their "Conversations" books. But of what value are they for contemporary COll1posers. it is new every time. Andre Malraux. instead he sent all his would-be students and even his own ." Technique is. There are lots of dull un- . and seems to be changing for the better. 110n de son ecriture'" . "I don't teach art. composition majors are advised to study with different teachers each year."? that is. Whistler. nor even the knowledge of how to do something. and. said. but they are only kindling material-s-the flame must come from within the student. as schools become more and more open to diversity in stylistic approaches. being creation. It is creation. and for a greater appreciation for the masters of those styles? [ames A. was of the opinion that "Technique is not a teachable science.

Conceptual Art is the first art movement to lack an object. why bother to execute the work at all? Just describe the idea and let the imagination take flight. for COl11poserscounterpoint can serve a similar purpose. and the music of our contemporaries. and it should not be judged as such or compared falsely to something to which it does not aspire. or imagination. But if it is (only?) the stroke of genius or imagination we admire in great works. compositional technique. and these are often useful. (I once spent a year studying and writing chromatic tonal fugues with Ernst von . announces itself as such in its exposition." or stochastic procedures be compared negatively to a polyphonic work. There is a maxim in aesthetics which infers that an art work ought to imply the standards by which it is to be judged. Colloquially. even if it is the immediate past. I saw one of the earliest exhibits in New York in 1970. notions. One walked around the gallery reading descriptions of imaginary art! But I have always believed that melody or any other technical detail in a composition can be critiqued contextually and indeed improved if the student is receptive. Mozart and Haydn studied sixteenth century counterpoint through Johann Fux's 1725 Gradus ad Pamassum. But this requires experience. yes. or at least that of the preceding generation. then. or styles. Nor should a study in textures. We would not mistake a fugue for a waltz or other homophonic form. and it consisted entirely of typed. especially modal counterpoint of the Renaissance. written long after the style it inaccurately described had died out. and how wen it holds our attention. But they build on the past as they must.10 PHILOSOPHY OF MUSIC EDUCATION REVIEW. "sound mass. Instrumentalists practice scales and etudes to maintain their technique. and. tonal and modal counterpoint." Granting the cornposer his or her initial premises and material. the only valid critical position is to determine the value of the premise." spirit. The key to valid criticism is contextuality. really) and cannot be taught. no more than a sonnet should be compared to a haiku or a novel. for example. and Beethoven studied counterpoint with Haydn. Stravinsky's opinion notwithstanding. audmounted proposals for images or actions that were only described. framed. to follow the logic of Conceptual Art which draws on this premise. and they would be virtually incomprehensible without the students having a previous grounding in harmonic theory. not the imposition of a priori theories. how well the implications of the material are realized. While experience and insight take time to develop (a lifetime. contemporary theory and even composition texts abound and are revised periodically to stay current. this would be the equivalent of "comparing apples to oranges. insight. To develop technique. 19:1 interesting pieces that are technically proficient but lack "inspiration. we persist in believing we can teach technique. A fugue. and not the technique employed (which can hardly be separated from it).

especially since Debussy and Ravel. more so than we do in the U. so this was a stretch for me. Boulanger wanted to verify nly contrapuntal ability before allowing ITIeto begin composition studies with her in Paris." I was not about to argue with her at nly callow age of twenty-one (she was then seventy-two-Iny age now as I write these words). . but I was only able to complete 64 of them in a week. This would have required 175 exercises (2+3+4+5+6+7+8 = 35 times each of the five species = 175).). the Copland Piano Sonata). In an age when many composers have abandoned melody and harmony. and said. Only after I had completed these tasks did she assume I was sufficiently prepared to COlnpose. counterpoint is still a useful discipline for what it can teach us about voice-leading when the music calls for independence of lines or parts. or play Renaissance choral music in four to six different clefs at the piano.DAVID WARD-STEINMAN 11 Dohnanyi. She kept . but only the first of Blany stretches. She took one look at nly text. (It often does not. When I could do some of that satisfactorily she would then ask nle to transpose it to a different key. When I presented my work to her the following week she carefully went over every exercise and started making corrections. the standard one in the field (having been forewarned by Gail Kubik to review counterpoint before I left the U. having misunderstood her arithmetic. the result will be very close to certain kinds of 20th century neoclassic counterpoint. sniffed. and I had double-checked Iny work against the text before showing it to her.S. So first she gave me a cantus [umus and asked me to set it in Palestrina Renaissance style in each of the five species. She approved nly corrected counterpoint. using all the C-clefs. "The book is wrong. If one exchanges consonant intervals for "dissonant" and vice-versa. I had thoughtfully brought Iny textbook with me. even after a successful audition as a composer during one of her rare visits to the U. whereupon she would ask me to do such things as sight-read (for example. rotated in every possible combination frorn two up to eight parts.) The French take counterpoint very seriously. and have yet to find a use for this skill.S. then had me do the same thing all over again with a chorale tune in eighteenth century Bach style. of course.) But Renaissance counterpoint is sufficiently remote from contemporary practices to not impose a tonal harmonic bias. reduce orchestra scores at the piano. Thereafter she imposed no more technical studies on me unless I carne for a lesson with insufficient new material to occupy her for the hour.S. I had never done counterpoint in more than four parts before. This can be an interesting exercise that nlay get the juices flowing. so I made the corrections she required and brought Illy folio back for my lesson the next week. I then pointed out to Mademoiselle (as Boulanger preferred to be addressed) that everything she marked as wrong was allowed in my text as "correct" for the style.

but are you sure you really did the best you could do?")1 I was still dubious. Iheaded immediately for the library to peruse the collected Urtext editions of Palestrina to verify my textbook. I achieved a few more pages with the viola part now very smooth under my thumbs. Mademoiselle!" and stalked out of her studio. or think what we can do now is the best we are capable of doing. I can't reach it. yes . Man Dteu. Whereupon she went to her library and brought back an Urtext edition of the complete opera score and asked me to reduce one of the arias at the piano. I replied. which was that there is really no point at which we should stop growing and declare ourselves satisfied with whatever level of ability we have attained." Her response. and Ifound my skills growing at an exhilarating pace under her tutelage. alternating thumbs with every other note throughout the entire aria until it was "legato enough." So we made an exercise of the viola part. and this time I made it all the way to the end. legato viola part. 19:1 "pushing my envelope" far beyond what anyone had ever expected of me before. flute part now covered albeit an octave lower. delivered in stentorian tones: "But if you had transposed the part down an octave then you could have played it with your little finger. clean bass lines. in tempo. Once again we started at the top. The execution was "not clean enough" and the bass part then had to be practiced separately. which I had been playing with Iny thumbs. Iwent through every volHIlle of his sacred choral works and could not find any o{the things Boulanger ." and I had to confess that I did not. more skill to acquire. so when I got back to the University of Illinois the next year to begin doctoral studies. more territory to conquer. however. I replied "Absolutely not. no wrong notes." Recommencing at the top. On one occasion she asked me if I knew "every note of Don Giovanni by heart. what more could she possibly expect? "Da-veed. eniendu. slamming the door behind me in exasperation. about her corrections of rily counterpoint and the text it was based on." Well. what does this woman expect! She's impossible! It was quite awhile before Iunderstood the meta-lesson Ishould have learned. now why didn't I think of that on the spur of the moment? So once again we began. There is always more to learn. was "not legato enough.. and I had made it almost to the end without missing any notes or transpositions when she stopped me once more and asked why I hadn't played the high flute part in the last few bars. if you play it again do you suppose you could also sing the vocal part?" Astonished. -that her mother's comment was invariably.. until she stopped me again because I had slurred or smeared a scale passage in the double-basses. (Boulanger once told me that when she was a young student and had come home to her mother bearing all sorts of First Prizes from the Conservatoire.12 PHILOSOPHY OF _MUSIC EDUCATION REVIEW. I was too busy with the lower parts. and successfully traversed the first few pages when she stopped me and noted that the inner viola part. "Mademoiselle. I began. "Yes. that's all very well.

. it would sound better. It is like 'kindling' ~one day along will come a more important idea that will require extensive work-s-the Harne is thus lit and away you gol" 9 Stravinsky had a similar attitude: "I compose evelY day. It came out. then I can always improvise detours around it. and as a result. The poen1 would at least set boundaries and help with fonnal design. According to Lou Harrison. (Boulanger never did this.. but none about "writer's block. are not aware of how counterpoint can give a depth of focus or a musical ambience to their ideas . particularly in counterpoint. Hardly a scrap unfinished or unused. If the "block" persists. counterpoint was only a very small part of her knowledge and pedagogy." ON WRITER'S BLOCK Boulanger had ITIany practical suggestions about the mechanics of conlposition. but it was something very valuable to me. So many recent composers . obviously. my concern for counterpoint has lasted throughout my work .. she only pointed out where the problems were. She made us aware of this extraordinary control of detail.. like temporary scaffolding that may be discarded later if it is no longer needed . Eniot Carter reported that: Boulanger taught me. at least you are there!" And to get around writer's block "simply compose one short piece a day."!" Milhaud's advice to students who got bogged down was simply to "Let it sing!" My own solution to this problem is to work on another part of the piece or even another piece entirely for a while. Virgil Thomson had a routine of his own for avoiding writer's block. like a man with banking hours. We did counterpoint in up to eight parts with her. and she was always pointing out little things about how if you did it in another way..DAVIDWARD-STElNMAN 13 had questioned that my text's author had said were permissible in his style! For Mademoiselle.. maybe more than anything else. of course. one of my shortcuts is to improvise different contextual solutions at the piano. This is a very old-fashioned point of view. It must be a complete composition each day." an excuse she never accepted for not producing regular work. about how concern for small details in music can make a great deal of difference in the total effect.. UIt is important. but gave . She thought that would be good discipline.. yet she knew the idiom and style of Palestrina's music better than someone who had elevoted his life to the study of that COInposer. When Iny students are bogged down and experiencing problems. . in the study of counterpoint. he said. The closest she carne to acknowledging a struggling student's dilemma.. so far as I heard. regularly. to keep regular appointments with the muse-> if she doesn't arrive then it's not your fault. I'm beginning to feel. was to suggest that he or she set a short poem to music for voice and piano...

19:1 no guidance case.) In my write. leaving that for the student to discover. and not to wait until they have finished all their household chores or homework. having found her niche and role early 011). was at least once attracted to writing "in a strait- . and recopy (with the new changes) as soon as needed. I never gestions. Boulanger's and Harrison's idea nlay have come frOITI rumors of Stravinsky spreading out the pages of L'Histoire du Soldat and tacking them up on the walls of his studio. This was to be achieved through successive sketches preserved for comparison-e no erasing! -and written on only one side of the staff paper. covering just a phrase. Presumably. She wanted her students to organize their lives so that they had quality time for composition (or piano or whatever their focus was). and not have to turn them over and back to see what you have written before. Do not delay this or you will delay cornposition itself. Milhaud. "Always conlpose as though there were plenty of paper. She even recommended entering a monastery (or presumably a nunnery for the women) to have time to compose! My advice to Illy students is to put composition first every day when their energy is highest. coincidentally. or a cadence-anything that seemed problematic or al10111alous in the piece. Boulanger's approach to the pedagogy of composition might be summed up as a "systematic exhaustion of all the possibilities within a given musical context. You cannot be presumed to have made the best choices unless you have explored all the contextually relevant options and are able to lay them out for comparison."!' I concluded that I should only write on one side of an unbound page of music paper and never in a bound notebook. as soon as they have disposable time. of course. so that he could walk around the room and read the entire movement without having to turn pages. with staves left empty above and below what you are working on to leave roonl for alternative possibilities. Keep your writing clean and clear. but have thought as to their solution. shuffle them freely as needed. THE PEDAGOGY OF COMPOSITION Boulanger thought that anything and everything in your work (and life!) ought to be subject to change and revision (except her own life. a short progression. because the latter imposes a linear straitjacket on the composition process. starting at the entrance. any part of my improvised sugI find that this helps them consider alternatives that they might not of otherwise. Lou Harrison had similar advice. Write out your music with space in and around it for changes.14 PH I LOSOPHY OF MUSIC EDUCATION R_EVIEW. or allow the student to write." and the context could be very minute and specific indeed. You need to be able to spread out all your (loose) rnusic pages. when he wound up back at the door the movement would be brought to an end.

and decided to use up every page-no more.. each time resulting in demonstrable improvement. no matter how many sketch stages a composition had gone through. Pourquoi le cinema n'en iemoignerait-il pas egalemeni. you can start anywhere and decide later where things go best after you have generated enough material.. The literal meaning of composition (from Latin componere. He stated that "it was not composed in the consecutive order of its finished state . He was asked: "Don't you think a film should have a beginning. so that either could be performed separately or together as an Octet. Once that was done he went back and composed his 15th quartet below the 14th. I worked on the variations individually. au lieu de s'en tenir a la construction lineaire traditionnelle?"15 ("Modern life is made of ruptures. instead of holding fast to traditional linear construction?") Resnais was queried at the Cannes Film Festival about the nonlinearity of the plot in his prize-winning 1961 film Last Year at Marienbad. It is then that the real work begins.") 14 Had not the film-nlaker Alain Resnais declared in 1961. I had thought it was finished when I first brought to her. The first recording of the Octet was made by)over-dubbing the 14th Quartet with the 15th while listening to a playback of the previous one through headphones. middle. the first of the "New Wave" filnls..."!' (Robert Schumann offered a different. a musical composition can begin with random sketches and modular sections that later find their place at the beginning. Aaron Copland's 1930 Piano Variations begins not with the Theme but with what he already considered to be a more developed variation of it. "La vie modeme est fade de ruptures.. com+ponerei is "to form by putting together"!' or "the act of combining parts or elements to fonn a whole. as everyone has often felt. The first piece I did with her after my three-week "trial by counterpoint" was over was the slow movement from nly first brass quintet. This process of composing-critiquing-revising went .")" Boulanger's comments and criticisms about form and detail were spontaneous and intuitive.." He had found an old elegantly bound book of octavo staff paper in a curio shop. but not necessarily in that I" or der. or end of a piece. however. . (Similarly. more poetic definition: to compose is "to remember a tune that nobody else has thought of. cela est ressenii par tout le monde . which he wrote using the top four staves. Determined to give her the benefit of the doubt. no less-in the composition of his 14th string quartet.. a three-minute 35measure piece that ultimately went through eight complete sketches and revisions. Music does not have to be composed straight through from beginning to end. I spent the next week revising it. but she proceeded to critique it minutely and found various problems. Why shouldn't cinema be the same. and an end?" He replied "Yes. the simplified "theme" follows. a middle.. not knowing exactly where or how they would eventually fit together.DAVIDWARD-STEtNMAN 15 jacket.

"A piece is not finished until the imagination can no longer improve it" ." and she would be right. she turned to me with a smile and said. but the principle of contextual criticism which Boulanger." . The last piece I worked on with her. Goethe addressed the question of constructive criticism over a century ago with three questions of his own: "What did the author [composer] set out to do? Was his plan reasonable and sensible."19 In other words. longer yet tighter and infinitely better-and played it for her.a guiding principle I extrapolated from Andre Malraux's critical inquiry in Les Voix du Silence where he was discussing masterpieces in Renaissance painting. Finally. and how far did he succeed in carrying it out??" The plan must be self-evident. and when I brought in the final movement she only criticized the calligraphy and some of Illy notation choices.." When I left her tutelage in Paris she had become like an external conscience. She had brought me to artistic independence and made me my own worst critic. Her final "benediction" had been: "You no longer need advice. For the first time in our lessons. I was happy enough to continue. Every single note and detail had been thoroughly scrutinized by both of us and tested by me. then the work itself shows what he was trying to c10. Milhaud.16 PHILOSOPHY OF MUSIC EDUCATION REVIEW. I could at last imagine no better choices. But Boulanger went unerringly to exactly those places. If the [artist] succeeded in doing it.. She would say. eternally valid." Music has changed greatly since Boulanger's death in 1979. she had nothing to say. I think it is right. materializing over my shoulder when I cornpose. "Yes. went through fourteen sketches plus a fifteenth after I left Paris and was orchestrating it. which was also unusual. (My stack of sketches was over a foot tall by this time. now.S. the meta-lesson she was trying to teach me. not dependent on program notes or consulting the oracle: "The design or intention of the author is neither available nor desirable as a standard for judging the success of a work. "Here it is not You. 19:1 on for over a month.. I think. and since the piece was getting better with each revision." I went on to finish the quintet. a three-movement. you just need time to write and to think about the music you want to write.I brought sketch nurnber eight in-quite a different piece by then. But it was not until the eighth revision that everything fell into place and I finally understood what she had been talking about. having explored all the contextual alternatives . only a poor artist takes refuge in "intentions. I had been too easily satisfied with my music before. I could anticipate what she would say about my work. multiple prize-winning symphony (Symphony 1959).) By then. She asked me to play the movement again. for I was now working independently and fluently. .. I assumed there was nothing wrong with them. and other good teachers espouse is. and since the passages t had worried about were never mentioned by n1y previous teachers. From then on I was convinced of her approach. however. even when I had auditioned with her during one of her rare visits to the u.

and performed with different orchestras Brent Heisinger's polystylistic EKTA concerto (a work written for me) which requires improvisation on an Indian raga and tala (with tabla drums). With this schedule the students would have intensive private coaching in the fall. play it. or listen to it. It follows. at least as developed in the prograll1 at San Diego State. An independent composition project for instruments playable by the students in each classroom is still a requirement every semester in the theory and counterpoint classes. or choral/instrumental group in the final semester. Why shouldn't all musicians compose.i" This required. culminating in a composition for band. thus benefiting from a wider variety of stylistic approaches and critiques than they would normally encounter in their own private studio lessons. and so on. then. which is the underlying philosophy of Comprehensive Musicianship. I split pedagogy into two formats: private studio instruction in the fall. improvisation on a theme in styles suggested by the audience. and I always include it in Illy own piano recitals-improvisation on notes from the audience. then hear what their peers and invited guests were doing in the spring. recorded. Another advantage of this curriculum was that the students were required to continue private instrumental studies in piano during the master class semester unless they had passed a piano proficiency exam. especially composers. among other things. including a public concert of the best works. COMPOSITION AND IMPROVISATION IN THE TWENTYFIRST CENTURY Improvisation is an important skill for all musicians. In the master class the students would be asked to critique constructively each other's work before I myself would speak. where irnprovisation was required and taught. Everything else we do in music is a spin-off from this triangle of fundamental activities. jazz . I also designed the subsequently influential Comprehensive Musicianship Program at San Diego State in 1967. that a musician's training should emphasize equally all three activities. which I have written about elsewhere. orchestra. I have also premiered.DAVIDWARD-STEINMAN 17 When I was asked to design a curriculum for composition majors at San Diego State University in the early 1960s (then San Diego State College). that all music majors and minors participate in world music ensembles. as well as jazz and new music ensembles. they formed a ready pool of players for their own compositions and each other's. followed by master class and lab in the spring. whereupon they could study another instrument.jazz. not just the composition majors? I think they should. There are really only three things to be done with music: compose it. Since all the composition students were required to play in my New Music Ensemble at least one semester.

As many predicted in recent years. then the talas." (I prepared for this by studying the raga EKTA was based on. and maintain their own unique musical language inside of that environment. for example. performer. academic and professional journals are not so tainted as to require the purchase of an advertisement before considering a recording or publication for review... as well as the kinds of media used in performance .] On the subject of improvisation I am in full agreement with composer and pianist Barton McLean when he writes: Every young composer and many types of improvisation a specific course dedicated improvisation course well point. I would certainly rank an intense above a course in 16th century species counter- But still more skills are required today. I added drones by strumming on the strings of the piano with the appropriate keys held down so the key notes would emerge. and often to assume production costs in addition." Additionally..18 PHILOSOPHY OF MUSIC EDUCATION R£YIEW. Fortunately. 19:1 improvisation with rhythm section. New aesthetics in music are constantly being invented. according to composer and sound artist Mike Vernusky. and the purchase of an advertisement does not guarantee a good review. At least two well-established commercial journals devoted to reviewing CDs require the purchase of an advertisement before considering the recording for review (or so the record companies tell me). and finally the written-out parts and chord progressions. This is important enough to warrant to this focus. If composers self-produce a CD there is little market for it except for sales at concerts or through their websites-the latter is now another requirement. a new type of composer skill set is needed to maximize our effectiveness in creativity: artists who can quickly adapt to new environments for musical creation. and convergent media artist. it seems. publishers assumed the responsibility for engraving or otherwise preparing music for distribution and sale. composers can also be expected to assume recording and editing costs themselves or obtain a grant before approaching a record company. and improvised embellishments with the orchestra. improvised cadenza. At least the review process is apparently independent. today's conlposers are expected to be able to computer-engrave their own works and either self-publish or be able to present camera-ready copy to established publishers. and record companies assumed the costs of recording and promotion." theorist should have hands-on experience with as as possible. . But now. many of whom print on demand only. who I believe is correct when he observes: The 21st century model of composer is blurring the roles of craftsman. In the past.

"Vous verrez. David Diamond. Pastoral (Rhythms). for example. Art. and ideas. Mark's Cathedral in Venice fostered the antiphonal polychoral style of resident Renaissance and Baroque composers. and are too numerous and presumably well known to require further citation. and of course Alban Berg's almost word for word setting of Georg Buchner's Wozzeck dr31TIais well known among musicians for the elaborate musical formal scheme that Berg extracted (or intuited) from the play. Architecture and music also have a long history of parallel involvement. Spiegelkanon (auf vier Ebenen) ["Mirror-canon on four planes"]. Salman Rushdie's novel. starting perhaps with Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the COITlpOSers the twelfth of and thirteenth centuries who worked there (Perotin. whose organum triplum compositions mirror the vaulting twin towers of the cathedral in their lively and rhythmic upper two parts. and Literature" at San Diego State University). Paul Klee. In literature the interchanges have been extensive. 25 Pierre Boulez reciprocated. Many other artists have also had their works "set" to music. Nocturne for Hom. while the five domes and reverberant acoustics influenced the composition and orchestration . among many that could be mentionecl. I have written about this over the years. just as many artists have learned from musical models. especially since the nineteenth century. New Harmony." lectured widely about it here and abroad. Polyphonic Architecture. The Satanic Verses. is a ninepart rondo (ABACABADA) skipping back and forth between two time periods. for example. based much of his teaching at the influential German Bauhaus on musical forms. two-act double fugue (not acknowledged in the program notes or by the author. I have noticed that Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia is a large scale. Fugue in Red. e. who was trained as a musician as well as an artist. and draws on my training in art history as well as my majors in music.g. In Bach's Style.lJz6Not surprisingly.i" and his own paintings reflect this interest. Gunther Schuller.DAVID WARD-STEINMAN 19 MUSIC AND THE OTHER ARTS Composers can often learn much that is relevant and useful from our sister arts when extrapolated to music. Forking in 414 Time. textures. In the fifteenth century. Tan Dun. But more recently. Sunday in the Park With George. and no doubt others have written orchestral pieces whose movements are based on specific paintings by Klee. but it fits). Stephen Sondheim and [ames Lapine even made a full-length Broadway musical out of a single painting by Georges Seurat CSunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande [atte"). Klee est le meilleur professeur de composition. and currently offer a course at Indiana University called "Connections: Music-Art-Literature-Multimedia" (previously titled "Analogs in Music. Polyphonic Setting for White. the dual choir lofts and organs of St. while the long drawn-out cantus finni in augillentation below suggest the central nave). Much of IDy own teaching is centered around "deep structure" analogs in the various arts.

"28 years after Zappa delivered his diatribe. intrinsically un-American pursuit.. The general consensus seems to be that music by living composers is not only irrelevant. and invigorating... according to a recent article by Anne Midgette: Classical music is thought of as a world of formal wear. which had commissioned the work}. we must address the question of our relevance to society. sissified.20 PHILOSOPHY OF MUSIC EDUCATION REVIEW." Twenty-three . On the one hand.. and acoustically on the architecture of St. Alex Ross. But young classical musicians here and elsewhere are increasingly exploring additional ways to express themselves . but genuinely obnoxious to a society which concerns itself primarily with the consumption of disposable goods .. Magazines that once put Bernstein and Britten on their covers now have time only for Bono and Beyonce... Benjamin Britten's 1962 War Requiem was composed and staged to take advantage of the internal architecture of Coventry Cathedral in England. it represents an attempt to break down the traditional concert format. Eighth Blackbird and others are reaching much wider audiences with their eclectic programming. red velvet seats and Mozart concertos. and there is no reason to give up yet. * .. especially outside the mainstream.. Alarm Will Sound. Mark's).I'" But new audiences are being cultivated. Crossover groups like the Kronos Quartet. Inc. or SCI) in 1984 posed the question: Why do people continue to compose music (and even pretend to teach others how to do it) when they already know the answer: nobody gives a *~.. wrote in apparent agreement that "contemporary classical con1posers have largely vanished from the radar screen of mainstream culture .music critic for The New Yorker magazine... * Is it really worth the trouble to write a new piece of music for an audience that doesn't care? . who in a keynote address to the American Society of University Composers (now the Society of Composers.. Some so-called "alt-classical" musicians n1ay have found one solution. The ensembles of the new alt-classical world are poised somewhere between traditional classical music and contemporary culture .. 19:1 of Stravinsky's 1955 Caniicum Sacrum (which is based formally. The spirit of these groups is permeating.. There are two main aspects of the alt-classical idea. THE AUDIENCE Finally. The second main point about alt-classical groups is that they are increasingly featured on mainstream.. symmetrically. the whole classical music world. which can seem stiff and off-putting to the younger crowd whom an musicians these days would like to attract. Classical music is widely mocked as a stuck-up. traditional concert series and orchestral program . The most cynical position I know of is Frank Zappa's.

Balance.mposer and poet Barney Childs used to urge his audiences). or write)? For lne. Tensian. 9Lou Harrison.DAVlD WARD-STEINMAN 21 So what is a composer to do? For whom should we write? Everyone must find his or her own answer. It is the same impulse that generated the prehistoric cave art at Lascaux. Poetics of Musk. 1982). global warming. Light. but as for me. 19-20. 1944). Conversations with Igor Stravinsky (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press. Through design. 1971. And harmony. For the Time Being (New York: Random House. If we cannot please ourselves first. SU111 it up perfectly: "White. composition is a metaphor for life. 1956. how can we expect to please anyone else? In that sense. craftsmen can make iterns of utility and beauty. trans. A blank page or canvas. Arthur Knodel & Ingolf Dahl (New York: Vintage Books. Auden. wherein we do the best we can with what we have. Lou Hamson's English ed. of course. 1993).453. Peters Corp. The apening lines of Stephen Sondheim's and James Lapine's musical. We cannot individually do rnuch about the world's problems. The Paris Diary of Ned Rorem (New York: George Braziller." that is. Perspectives of New Music. 28 no. a compaser can fill the blank staves an a piece of staff paper.F. 1951). 113. Nadia nodded. 3Quoted in James Elkins. Bernard.. Altarnira. The challenge: bring order to the whole. 42. of 1947). and elsewhere. H. Music Primer (New York: C. Japanese/ . or other threatening portents an the horizon. even if the chaos is self-generated or a product of our lives. Aboriginal Australia. 5Stravinsky. "An Interview with Elliott Carter. 26-7. 199-200. Les Voix du Silence (Paris: La Galerie de la Pleade. or sculpt. the best answer is that it is a way of bringing some order out of chaos." traffic density. aren't you?" she asked. In Leonie Rosenstiel's biography [Nadia Boulanger: A Life in Music (New York & London: W."!' NOTES 'Ned Rorern. 119. original copyright 1947 Harvard College. 1980). 1966). I write for myself and "that myth ical other. 2 (Summer. 6Andre Malraux. or for whomever has commissioned the piece.30. Norton. "The quote given is as I remember it. But why compose at all (or paint. 4Igor Stravinsky and Robert Craft.45] -the incident begins with a quote from Nadia's mother: "You are quite pleased with yourself. from the French eel. W. Composition. "But are you certain that you did all that you could?" 8JonathanW. but an artist can at least control the world of his canvas. 1990). and do not stop striving until «our imagination can't improve" upon what we have done. whoever will meet me halfway and "set their expectation dials back to zero" (as co. "death and taxes. Sunday in the Park with George. Why Art Cannot Be Taught (Urbana & Chicago: University of Illinois Press. 2W. 2001).

Hajo Dtichting. 2 (1983). 132. ed. 2 (Fall 1987). "Comprehensive Musicianship at San Diego State University. http://members . Newsletter. Andrew Kagan." Philosophy Looks at the Arts. c retrieved 5/4/2009.." Musique 6 Arts Plasiiques. ed.174. New York: 1997).. 2001). 14Quoted in Leonard Louis Levinson. 15Sarah Leperchey.. Malraux." Society of Composers. IZMernam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.7 (Aug/Sept. Un chef-d'oeuvre de la peiniure. 13 L Z7Warc1-Steinman. Barbara Day Turner.. 15. http://www. zlBrent Heisinger.2006).netlmclmix/articlesreviews6.newlllusicbox. EKTA (for Solo Piano. 1987). and Monroe C. Temple University Press. 1967). (Paris: U niversite de Paris-Sorbonne. 19:1 IOStravinsky and Craft.22 PHILOSOPHY OF MUSIC EDUCATION REVIEW. 129-147. Alain Resnais: une lecture topologique (Paris: L'Harrnattan." The Musical Quarterly. 1985). "Pierre Boulez: Sept Lecons de Paul Klee. "Learning Through 20David Ward-Steinman. LXIX no. May 1. (Springfield. OK: University of Oklahoma. 2000). tion L'Art en bref. 18Quoted in W. DW-S]. quoted in Ekaterina Denissova. 255. PAUL KLEE I Art 6 Music (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press. 1924). 26''You will see. Les Voix du Silence. Klee is the best professor of composition" [trans. Dialogues Press. Wimsatt [r. 9. Coplandl1900 Through 1942 (NY: St. MA. 1991). and Nancy PerIoff. K. rev. . 1983).org/article. "A Professional Composer's View of the "Theory/Corup Curriculum and its Relevance to the Community-at-Large. 2009): 1. Webster's Unafraid Dictionary (New York: Collier Macmillan Pub. University Research Lecture. "Klee and Webern: Speculations on Modernist Theories of Composition. 1 no. "The Intentional Fallacy. (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California "Hanison. 1. Joseph Margolis (Philadelphia. San Jose Chamber Orchestra. Beardsley. retrieved 5/5/2009. Ptidagogische» Skizzenbucii (Munich: Albert Lagen.nmbx?id= 5978. "Embodying the Future of New Music. Lou Hamson's Music Primer. Bay Press. 107. 13Webster's Encyclopedic CA: Thunder Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (San Diego. 25 no. 25See KLEE et fa musique (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou. 294. c'esi un tableau que l'imagination ne peut plus perfectionner.49. Paul Klee=Painting Music (Munich. conductor (San Jose: SJCO 04.420. 1995): 3. isbec. 1978). 11til ed. 23Mike Vernusky. z2Barton McLean. "Tbid. Martin's/Marek.html. Solo Percussion and String Orchestra) compact disc. "Aaron CoplandNivian 1984). 180-208. 296. 1982). 24Palll Klee. 17 Collec- Pedis. Inc. au temps de Raphael." newmusicbox (American Music Center online." Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy (Norman. Toward a Comparative Structural Theory of the Arts (San Diego: San Diego State University Press. 2003).