Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

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Greenberg Recommends – Vocal Sampling

When I was a graduate student I had the opportunity to study with a wonderful composer (and teacher) named Olly Wilson. A piece of advice Olly gave his students (myself included) was to listen to and thus immerse yourself in whatever instrumental combination you were composing for in order to get (and keep) the “sound” of that ensemble in your ear. It was good advice, but for me, only up to a point. Yes, in preparation for beginning a project, I like to do a little such listening. But once I’ve started writing, there is no chance and no way am I going to listen to another composer’s music for a like ensemble. Here’s why. I am presently working on a trio for violin, ‘cello, and piano. I began writing in early March and am presently about halfway through the first draft. Listening to recordings or live performances of other piano trios at this point can only do two things: distract or induce despair. Regarding distraction: I’ve got to let my musical materials go where they want to go. That means focusing with narcissistic intensity on my materials and my materials only. To hear – and worse, be influenced – […]

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