We are manly against all and every asserted principle – Group of Composers of Bahia, 1966.
1.To compose is to invent a music in accordance with the rules of the art. Rousseau, Dictionaire de musique (1768).
2. Komponieren ist: denken in Tönen und Rhythmen (Composition is: thinking in tones and rhythms). Every piece is the presentation of a musical idea. Musical thinking is subject to the laws and conditions of all our other thinking, and beyond that must take into consideration the conditions resulting from the material. All thinking consists essentially in bringing things (concepts, etc.) into relationship with each other. An idea is the production of a relationship between things otherwise having no relationship to one another… Each composition raises a question, puts up a problem which in the course of the piece has to be answered, resolved, carried through. It has to be carried through many contradictory situations; it has to be developed by drawing conclusions from what it postulates… and all this might lead to a conclusion, a pronunciamento… But every relation that has been used too often, no matter how extensively modified, must finally be regarded as exhausted; but ceases to have power to convey a thought worthy of expression. Therefore every composer is obliged to invent, to invent new things, to present new tone relations for discussion and to work out their consequences. (Arnold Schönberg, The Musical Idea, 1934)
3. [What is composition? Not it at all]: When is “composition”?: I use the word “composition” whenever I wish to speak of the composer’s activity and the traces left by it. The composer is motivated by a wish to bring about that which without him and human intent would not happen. In particular, the composer’s activity consists in constructing contents, systems, stipulated universes, wherein objects and statements, selected by the composer, not only manifest more than there mere existence, but have a function or value or sense or meaning which without his construction they would not have. (Herbert Brün, my wrods and where i want them, princelet editions, aphorism 49, 1986).
4. Organicity and Relativization: The first law has to do with the creative act, which encompasses the following phases: to conceive, to give birth to, to make it grow, to make it develop, to make it bloom and to mature – thus a really organic process from which results the form and which also implies in constantly trimming and criticizing. But it also implies that it is not the teacher’s criticism that should prevail, but his gift of being able to awaken the critical spirit in the student: the self-criticism… The second law is based on the relativity of things, of points of view. Since Einstein’s discovery we need to rethink. We must admit that we do not deal with dualisms anymore like ‘Either this or that’, as Cecília Meireles says [to us and] to the children, but with paradoxical reality of ‘this and that’. Inclusivity instead of exclusivity (Ernst Widmer, The formation of contemporary composers… Ms, 1988).
5. Composition is an act, and human acts are designed sequences of steps making sense of some chosen task environment in the service of an Idea or plan… It is the activity of an organism in the world in pursuit of creating its own world… Listening as well as Composition, when not abstracted out of this ‘Lebenswelt’, are activities of an organism that, by way of reason, creates its own world. It is quite another matter to ‘reason about’ this activity scientifically, than to follow one’s reason in accomplishing actions such as listening and composing. (Otto Laske. “Toward an epistemology of Composition, Interface, 1991, p. 235.)
6. Sometimes composing is like chasing butterflies. You try to capture moments and articulate them as clearly as possible. You help them become inevitable. (Eric Stokes, In: The Muse that Sings, p. 5, 1999)
7. I have been saying all the time that composition for me is a challenge. Not in the sense that it is difficult, but rather the challenge to present and resolve compositional problems, and as someone interested in the study of music, to identify problems and solutions. It is precisely in this presentation and solution of problems that I identify creation. (Jamary Oliveira, “A respeito do compor”. Revista ART 019, p. 59-63, 1992)
8. Five components or dimensions of the compositional act: 1) a field of choices (top-down and bottom-up strategies); 2) ‘music is something that we do’ (inseparability between theory and practice, they operate more like a continuum); 3) creation of worlds (imagination and causality); 4) critique (composition as an act of interpretation); 5. reciprocity: ‘the design creates the designer as much as the designer creates the design (see Laske 1992). All the five components are involved in defining the quality of that which is composed. (Paulo Costa Lima, Teoria e prática do compor I, Edufba, 2012, p. 24-27).
9. Drei Grundbeobachtungen möchte ich ansprechen (three basic observations about composition): 1. Komponieren heißt: über die Mittel nachdenken (to think about the means; intellectually, intuitively, spontaneously or strictly calculating… by analysis, by experiments. by training of the ear, by education in the widest sense, by watchful life – quite indeed by composition); 2. Komponieren heißt: ein Instrument bauen (to build an instrument, in other words: sound as a structural experience); 3. Komponieren heißt: nicht sich gehen, sondern sich kommen lassen (not to go, but to let yourself arrive instead; do not trust the composer that knows exactly what he wants…). LACHENMANN, Helmut, 1996. Über das Komponieren. In: Musik als existentielle. Erfahrung: Schriften 1966-1995. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel. p. 73–82. (via José Henrique Padovani).
10. Composition, for spectral composers, is the act of sculpting sound using time as the framework that enables the perception of various sonic structures… Spectralism is an attitude towards composition rather than a specified set of technical and aesthetic guidelines… After denouncing the word ‘spectral’ as an inappropriate label, Grisey lists certain ‘consequences’ of the spectral attitude. These consequences are grouped into three categories: harmonic and timbral, temporal, formal. (Gainey, Christopher J. University of Iowa, Attitudes of Spectralism, 2009).