Considering style

Here’s some­thing I’ve been won­der­ing about lately.

As you develop your own style, is it good to be aware of it? For instance, I know that I like to write in a spare, eco­nom­i­cal style. I want to leave my audi­ence want­ing more; go in and give them a quick rush of musi­cal feel­ing and then call the piece done. So, you could say that’s one of the hall­marks of my own musi­cal style. But is that a good thing for me to know?

Another exam­ple: instead of using tra­di­tional har­mony, a cadence say, I like to give the ear a hook that takes the place of a cadence. Maybe instead of V-I I’ll use a minor sev­enth on E “resolv­ing” to a minor sev­enth on C#. Through rep­e­ti­tion, the ear learns that this is the cadence. That’s one way I approach har­mony — it’s not tra­di­tional nor is it atonal. But is it good for me to have iden­ti­fied this aspect of my style?

One big pos­i­tive is that, hey, I have a style! On the other hand, I don’t want to get set­tled in my ways just yet. It’s good to keep evolv­ing. I do won­der about defin­ing my “style”.

About Richard D. Russell

This was written by Richard D. Russell, New York City based composer of fine music.