The Muse That Sings

The Muse That Sings : Composers Speak about the Creative Process

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The Muse That Sings is a unique behind-the-scenes look at both twentieth-century music and the nuts and bolts of creative work. Here, twenty-five of America's leading composers-from Adams to Zorn, from Bolcom to Vierk-talk candidly about their craft, their motivations, their difficulties, and how they how proceed from musical idea to finished composition.

While focusing on the process and the stories behind specific works, the composers also touch on topics that will interest anyone involved in creative work. They discuss teachers and mentors, the task of revision, relationships with performers, and the ongoing struggle for a balance between freedom and discipline.

They reveal sources of inspiration, artistic goals, and the often unexpected ways their musical ideas develop. Some describe personal tonal systems; others discuss the impact of computers and other electronic tools on their work; still others reflect philosophically on the inner impulses and outer influences that continue to drive them.

While serious music has a reputation for being difficult and inaccessible, The Muse That Sings provides a powerful antidote. The composers in this book speak clearly and thoughtfully in response to key questions of concern to all readers interested in contemporary music.

Each interview has been edited to stand alone as a concise meditation on muse and technique, and the book includes selected discographies as well as brief biographical sketches.

Anyone with an interest in twentieth-century music or in the creative process will find this lively collection a valuable source of inspiration and insight.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 278 pages
  • 154.9 x 236.2 x 16.5mm | 421.85g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • numerous halftones
  • 0195168127
  • 9780195168129
  • 1,566,803

Table of contents

Alphabetical List of Composers ; Foreword by Leonard Slatkin (Music Director, National Symphony Orchestra) ; Introduction ; 1. Eric Stokes (b. 1930) ; 2. Steve Reich (b. 1936) ; 3. William Bolcom (b. 1938) ; 4. John Corigliano (b. 1938) ; 5. John Harbison (b. 1938) ; 6. Joan Tower (b. 1938) ; 7. John Adams (b. 1947) ; 8. Claude Baker (b. 1948) ; 9. Dan Welcher (b. 1948) ; 10. Daniel S. Godfrey (b. 1949) ; 11. Fred Lerdahl (b. 1949) ; 12. Shulamit Ran (b. 1949) ; 13. Christopher Rouse (b. 1949) ; 14. Steven Stucky (b. 1949) ; 15. Libby Larsen (b. 1950) ; 16. Lois V Vierk (b. 1951) ; 17. John Zorn (b. 1953) ; 18. Michael Daugherty (b. 1954) ; 19. James Mobberley (b. 1954) ; 20. Bruce Adolphe (b. 1955) ; 21. Bright Sheng (b. 1955) ; 22. Richard Danielpour (b. 1956) ; 23. David Lang (b. 1957) ; 24. Sebastian Currier (b. 1959) ; 25. Aaron Jay Kernis (b. 1960)
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Review quote

These interviews with 25 composers are distilled to short, informal yet highly focused discussions ... [McCutchan] allows the voices of the composers-most of whom live and work in the U.S. and were born between 1930 and 1960-to come through with candor ... These intimate snapshots of creative artists contemplating their role and function at the end of the 20th century succeed not only in shedding light on the creative process, but in dispelling many of the negative
stereotypes attached to contemporary music." -Publishers Weekly The Must That Sings [is] a book which will prove fascinating to those with an interest in contemporary musical composition, and in the creative process in general ... Every decade needs a book like this, for ideas and tastes will always change and it will always require the work of scholars to document how the creative minds of an age think about their art. Ann McCutchan has provided such a work. * The Ithaca Times * Engaging and inspirinig. * Chamber Music Magazine * The effect on the reader is astonishing as one after another of these composers is revealed, warts and all, to be desperately and wonderfully human. * David McGowan, American Music Teacher *
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About Ann McCutchan


Award-winning fine arts writer Ann McCutchan is also the author of Marcel Moyse: Voice of the Flute (1994). She is a Lecturer in the School of Music at the University of Texas.
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Rating details

28 ratings
4.28 out of 5 stars
5 46% (13)
4 39% (11)
3 11% (3)
2 4% (1)
1 0% (0)
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