Contemporary Classical Composer

Composers Need Rules

I was reading John Locke and came across this:

“For law, in its true notion, is not so much the limitation as the direction of a free and intelligent agent to his proper interest, and prescribes no farther than is for the general good of those under that law: could they be happier without it, the law, as an useless thing, would of itself vanish; and that ill deserves the name of confinement which hedges us in only from bogs and precipices. So that, however it may be mistaken, the end of the law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom…”

John Locke, Two Treatises on Government, Part Two, Chapter VI, para. 57

Of course this was stated in the context of a discussion about political power, but it reflects a larger principle, which the great composers of the past from Bach to Stravinksy and so on have duly embraced – compose within restraints, whether it’s “don’t write parallel perfect consonances” or “don’t repeat this pitch-class until these six others have been used.”

January 2, 2022