There is no “common practice” in today’s music composition. A “common practice” needs a homogenous environment, which in our time doesn’t exist even within a restricted locality. Many composers use (or imitate, to be more accurate) various styles and have always done so. The style(s) one imitates can only come from the past because no one ever knows what the present style is. In the end, the fate of music is decided by the response of audiences. The trouble is that we don’t know what “in the end” means-it can be tomorrow, or a long time after we are gone.
Listening to music with understanding requires the ability to make references. The more referential (and more imitative) the music, the more recognizable it is and the more banal it sounds. The less referential (and more original) the music, the more time it takes the audiences to find their way to it. Trying to balance the two-the new, unusual, difficult and often confusing with the referential and recognizable-is calculating. One composes music which one feels should be written without regard to the opinion of others, always hoping for the best.