Composition Quote of the Day: Be Clear

Portrait Ludwig van Beethoven when composing t...

What I’m saying, of course, is that you just can’t worry about trying to be completely clear, because it’s just not possible to write music on such a low and obvious level as to do that. On the other hand, I find that most composers exaggerate in the other direction. They think that if musical structure is clear the music will somehow lose its mystery, or people will think the composer is stupid. I find, though, that the more you understand music the more mysterious it becomes, and this is even true of pieces that have been analysed to death, like [Beethoven’s] Fifth Symphony. I also find that intelligent people always respect the intelligence needed to construct a simple structure in a clear way that really works.

–Tom Johnson

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