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 www.pjb.com.au/mus/new_era.html
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
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
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