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Pandering to the audience

Photographer Ming Thein's blog is one of my absolute favourites. He is a phenomenal photographer, but also a very good writer. His latest post, 'Art, celebrity and fame', deals with being an artist, trying to remain true to your vision, but also having to serve other interests, like commercial clients.

That's something that every musician can relate to, I think! Professionals have to try to play music that will find an audience, while hobbyists often play music that's socially acceptable, music that their friends and family will enjoy. Kids going to music lessons are more or less at the mercy of their teachers; indeed it would be difficult for them to choose their music for themselves, since they don't yet know the repertoire or what's technically feasible for them.

What's that all got to do with this site? Well, I'm also trying to find an audience for my music, but at the same time I want to compose in a way that will satisfy my own sensibilities. Ming Thein is pretty pessimistic in the aforementioned article: he seems to almost think that remaining uncompromised in your art means never achieving any kind of recognition, except perhaps posthumously.

I disagree, perhaps because my medium is music. I think that compromising your artistic integrity, trying to please (an imaginary) audience, is the surest way to lose that audience. No listener or player will long remain interested in music that doesn't really reflect the composer's inner world, or soul, if you will. If, on the other hand, the composer writes music for himself, those sounds will also move others.

I think that's equally valid of every kind of music, be it simple or complex, symphony, hip hop - or educational guitar music. What's your view? Please leave a comment if you agree - and especially if you disagree!

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