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Editorial Musings with Basil Ramsey

To order
Considering the commissioning of composers

Seemingly, the world has more composers per square mile than at any previous time. As you may expect, no such statistic is available, and we really do not want to squander time in calculating for the sake of it. Even if a number was available, updated regularly, it would mean nothing.

What does stir my thoughts occasionally is of that unknown quantity divided between performed and unperformed music. Before I go further with these thoughts, there are still music lovers who assume that composers of today only write to commission. That supposition is far from true, and could be seen as a retrograde step. Composers need stimulus, which comes from virtually anywhere, but ideally incorporates features that may spur fruitful response.

Controversy often enters the ring when there's discussion about the desirability of commissioning a composer for a specific occasion. Some people are convinced that such a way runs the risk of dull or contrived music in return. I was of that persuasion for years, until I looked for evidence. There's just as much dull music written on spec as against commission!

Involving a composer in almost any situation where music may add a new dimension to a specific event is a spur to their creativity. That in itself projects new life, so good for the community and good for the composer. Look up publishers' lists of composers and note the diversity of music written in response to commissions. This act of faith by a commissioning body has a power and influence that usually spreads much wider than expected.

Copyright © 14 February 2003 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK



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