I caught some fairly serious static last week for suggesting that there’s value in the difficulty of writing music. (I remember being criticized similarly for proposing a while back that composing can also be a character-building exercise, that its “sweat equity” is redeemable for benefits both artistic and personal.) It seemed like a fairly innocuous statement—maybe, like cardiovascular fitness, compositional acumen must be tested against steeper challenges in order to develop. As I pointed out in the “comments” section, the kind of music that comes easily to me is not very good. I have to work hard if I want to produce decent pieces. More power to you if you don’t, but I do.
That’s the bottom line: If you purport to be a composer, your responsibility is a) to be honest with yourself about what “good music” is and b) to write some. If you can get away with half-assing it, you might as well be half-assing some other line of work, because the money is almost sure to be better. The first obligation, cultivating criteria for “good music,” is a difficult and time-consuming process that’s completely unique to each of us. But it’s only a precondition for that second obligation, a task that seems immensely more difficult and time-consuming than the first. Unless, of course, it isn’t—and as I mentioned before, it may not be for everyone. It clearly wasn’t for Mozart. Was writing half an hour of music for every Sunday of the year on top of a bunch of other pieces difficult for Bach? Schubert wrote a song every day during some periods of his life.
If there was some kind of music I could spit out on a daily basis with the consistently high quality of Mozart’s, Bach’s, or Schubert’s, I wouldn’t be wasting my time blogging. There just isn’t.