Fred Himebaugh lists "four freedoms" for composers, especially composers who are "stuck" . For the sake of completeness, I'll note that A. C. Douglas singles out two of them for endorsement: Freedom from the Masterpiece Syndrome and freedom from the quest for complexity, which are, I believe related, in that they can make the composer so self-conscious that he or she can't even decide how to spell a given note, for fear of something or other. In fact "Freedom from Self-Consciousness" is an umbrella over all of these concerns.

I would add a corollary, or flip side to the freedom from the quest for complexity: Freedom from the Ache for Accessibility. One never knows what an audience will like or dislike at any given time, so tailoring your music to try to make it "likeable" is a fool's errand, and more than a little condescending.

Why "condescending"? If you think you have to change your music (or your art in general) so that the audience will "like" or "get it", then you think the audience can't "get" what you are after in the first place. Write what you hear and what you feel. If your talent and skill are up to your inspiration there will be an audience for it.

Now, as for finding and cultivating that audience . . .


  1. I completely agree with the "Freedom from the Masterpiece Syndrome."

    However, regarding the "complexity" issue, I wonder if consciously avoiding such thinking as Fred puts forth ("...and then here I will put two minutes of really sophisticated, really complicated stuff that will be real impressive...") is just as damaging. I think it's an issue that should be tackled depending on the context of the piece/section of the piece one is working on. I definitely don't believe in composing really complicated music just to sound impressive. However, I take issue with what I see as an implication that trying to compose "really sophisticated" music is in any way bad. For me, all great music is "really sophisticated". Even the pieces that sound extremely simple on the surface have an incredible degree of sophistication upon closer examination.

  2. I agree, Marcus. Fred can speak for himself, of course, but I think he was writing that one shouldn't do the complexity-for-complexity's-sake thing. And my "Freedom for the Ache for Accessibility" was meant as a balancing act.