The Ivory Tower Syndrome
The Ivory Tower
I once attended a lecture by the late, great Ray Bradbury, who knew
he was addressing an audience of young writers. What he had to say
was essentially that, if you wanted to be a writer, you just read and
read and eventually it would start to come back out.
I somehow understood what he meant at that time, which was this;
many people have the idea that if you want to write music, for
example, you would go and shut yourself off in some ‘ivory tower,’
hoping that you could come up with a bolt out of the blue. By shutting
yourself up in an ivory tower and not listening to other music you
would be able to create something absolutely new and would not be in danger of copying someone else’s work either directly or by accident.
Now shutting their selves in an ivory tower is not what the great
composers of the past did. Even Beethoven had his influences and they are quite obviously traceable and evident throughout the different periods of his composing. Beethoven revered Handle, for example and called him the ‘Master of the Masters.’
Now Beethoven was famous for ‘breaking the rules’ of musical
composition and this has led many people to ask; just what rule or
method did Beethoven follow to produce his masterpieces?
Well it would seem to be music the way that Beethoven liked to hear
So, after duplication of many different styles and works, the next and
very important step is deciding what you like and don’t like. After all, in music and art, as in all things, it’s your opinion that matters.
One cannot go on, relying on the opinions of ‘authorities,’ and hope to
produce anything of real value. The great contributions in history were based on an individual point of view and not the result of a group agreement or following the latest trend or fashion.