Vicarious Muse

Today I came to a realization that at first seemed so trivial and obvious that I hesitated to write about it: I compose the kind of music that I want to listen to myself, and also the kind of music that I’d want to play if I retained any meaningful facility on an instrument.

Perhaps this is laughably self-evident, even some manner of tautology; at least that’s how it struck me at first. It was only after a little reflection that I wondered: is it necessarily true that all artists want to create in part to satisfy that inner listener? It certainly appears true in my case, although I rarely go at it as explicitly as I’m writing about it now. Is some degree of this dual creator/recipient experience universal to all artists? Or are there individuals who create from a very different place, for example a state motivated by exploration of construction and comparatively little concern for the effect of the results?

My own urge toward compositional exploration is present but I feel it’s definitely contained within my definition of what I like to listen to; but I can imagine composers who might feel so engaged with the process of their explorations that a profoundly different evaluative mechanism is engaged than that employed as a listener. Is this type of approach prevalent as well? Or is this a rare exception to our inevitable tendency to create for that “first audience”—ourselves?

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