Edward T. Cone: Not Theory, Practice…

Writing About Music vs. Writing Music

FRANK J. OTERI: In terms of how you divide your time—writing about other peoples’ music and creating your own music—do those two streams fuel each other? Do you feel if you’re writing about Schubert, let’s say, does that inspire you to then write a piece of original music, or vice versa?

EDWARD T. CONE: I would say more the vice versa. That is, my own music inspires me to look at someone else rather than writing about Schubert inspires me to write music. That would be less true, of course, of contemporary composers. For example, when I wrote about Roger Sessions that would often give me ideas. Not so much the writing about it, but the fact that you have to really study the music very closely to write about it that would give me ideas and inspiration of my own, but much less so in the case of a classical composer.

FRANK J. OTERI: You literally have to get inside the head of another composer to really write about that music. A choice is made a certain way, but it could have been done all these other ways; these are all the other paths that could have been taken. So I guess my question then is, when you’re writing a composition, if you’re so immersed in studying someone else’s music at some point, are you then in your pieces taking the paths that weren’t taken, that you would have taken, had you written the music you’re analyzing?

EDWARD T. CONE: Yes, but you see, usually when I’m writing words I’m usually not composing, and when I’m composing I’m usually not writing words.

FRANK J. OTERI: So there’s never an issue where you are working on a piece of music and there’s a deadline for a composition and also a deadline for an article? There’s never been an example where those two things are going on?

EDWARD T. CONE: Well there may have been, but I don’t recall.

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