On October 18th, I attended Martin Roque’s lecture on music composition. I am not musically inclined in any way, so this was an interesting lecture since I am unacquainted with the subject matter. Roque started the discussion by refuting common misconceptions about music composition, i.e. stating that music is not autobiographical. Many assume that one needs to have an experience, feel a certain way about the experience, and then make music about the feeling in relation to the experience. However, Roque stated that music is something larger than our awareness; there is no way to “get it just right” or transcribe feelings directly into music. For this reason, it is hard to tell the character of the artist from the piece. For Roque, melody comes to him when he is physically free, like in the shower, thereby showing how fleeting musical inspiration can be. Also, in his opinion, music does not need to be enjoyable; rather, it needs to have an affecting quality.
Roque played some of his compositions for us, including Storm Blowing Through Me, which is a complex, emotionally expressive song. As the song played, he lead us through each transition, explaining how it was different from the section before it in emotion and timbre, which was very helpful since it was my first time hearing a freshly composed piece. By differentiating between his pieces, Roque showed how different songs have different personalities, something I had never considered before.
While listening to the piece, I did feel an emotional affect, though it is hard to explain since it wasn’t an explicit emotion. In a sense, his song sent out emotional vibes. As Roque detailed his composition for us, he stated that some parts are hazy, as if in a fog, while others are energetic, psychological, and mysterious. These are not emotions one feels, but rather, are emotions one experiences. Therefore, though a novice on this subject, it seems that Roque’s composition accomplished what it set out to do, cause an affect. As a result, I have begun to listen, or at least be open to listening, to more composed music rather than the artificial ‘music’ that plagues our radio’s airways.