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Editorial Musings

Two Camps

The Australian composer Peter Billam has published a statement about the 'New Era in Music Publishing' as he sees the situation now and in the future. It can be read on .

His enthusiasm for reform is understandable. Maybe the biggest challenge for today's composer is publicity - not the simple distribution of copies for review, or even samples to appropriate performers. The hard-edged necessity is for grasping high profiles for composers, yet it all depends on the composer. The implications can be a trifle menacing. Composers whose every note is carefully placed with an eye to effect and accessibility in the market place are a different breed to the minority whose music stems from an inner compulsion without hint of compromise.

I think Mr Billam has the first variety in mind rather than the second: 'Composers will prosper if they can write music that is a pleasure to read, and that rewards repeated readings'. I am not a composer but have experienced so many throughout my life as to know a clear distinction between one and the other.

Without doubt composers can mount a campaign on the internet whether they offer the comfort of music planned to the last note as 'showstoppers' or uncompromising essays in a style forged from their own dictates. That both are needed is without question. Perhaps for stability a balance is required, but that is beyond our control.

My conviction remains that real fashioners of music are fiercely independent and compose according to the dictates of the precious spark within. As humanity develops and the years speed on a vital handful in every generation responds creatively to the dynamic surge of music and learns how to discipline and shape the flow for others to hear and, in turn, to respond. That completes the circuit and is open to anybody who has ears to hear. All the slickness and packaging of commercial music fails to disguise the truth.

Basil Ramsey, March 15th 1999

Read Peter Billam's reply >>

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